US actor Robert Downey Jr. poses for picture on the red carpet as he arrives for the premier of his latest film “Iron Man 3” in Leicester Square in central London in this file photo. -AFP Photo

NEW YORK: Superhero sequel “Iron Man 3” rocketed to the top of US and Canadian box office charts, kicking off Hollywood's summer movie season with an estimated $175.3 million in weekend ticket sales for the second biggest opening of all time.

The movie from Walt Disney Co's Marvel studio stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, a billionaire businessman with a superhero alter-ego.

“Iron Man 3” finished behind Marvel's “The Avengers,” which debuted one year ago with $207.4 million, and ahead of the July 2011 release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2,” which earned $169.2 million over its first three days.

The “Iron Man” mania trounced all other movies. Dark action comedy “Pain & Gain” finished in second place, grossing 7.6 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday. Baseball drama “42” took the No. 3 slot with $6.2 million.

“Pain & Gain” was released by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc. Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc , distributed “42.”

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