Spider-Man 3 Swings to Records

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During its US opening weekend at 4,252 theaters, Spider-Man 3 has posted a record domestic gross of $148 million. The film continues to peak internationally as well.

The Sony Pictures release’s rise to the top of the pack following its May 4 United States debut was expected, but the way in which it did wasn’t. While many critics in print and online find the movie too packed and convoluted, Spider-Man 3 shrugged off the lukewarm reviews and went on the previous opening-day and opening-weekend records set last year by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest by posting $59.3 million on day one and $148 during its first three days, as opposed to Pirates 2’s $55.9 and $135.6 respectively.

Spider-Man 3 also easily outperformed its predecessors at its home turf, as Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 generated $114.8 million and $88.1 million during their respective opening weekends.

The widest-ever launch at 4,252 theaters wasn’t a bad gamble either, as its per-location average was $34,807, topping last year’s $33,296 record set by Marvel Studios’ previous feature, X-Men: The Last Stand.

The movie is also a hit on IMAX, setting a new opening-weekend record with $4.8 million on 84 screenings, outperforming March’s 300 debut ($3.6 million). Imax Filmed Entertainment chairman and president Greg Foster stated, “We've migrated from being a business that showed 45-minute nature documentaries that didn't bring in teenagers and moviegoers in their early 20s. We're now capturing that core audience." Foster further expects Spider-Man 3 will screen on IMAX until the July 13 release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Spider-Man 3 also led to record-setting online ticket sales for Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com, breaking Fandango's daily and hourly sales records on Friday, while the pic broke MovieTickets.com’s  site-wide single day record.

Internationally, the film is also the top opener ever, generating a total open-weekend gross of $375 million. 60%, or $227 million, of that total was generated outside of North-America, at 16,700 playdates in 105 countries in six days, and was $62 million more than the previous top foreign launch ever, shattering breaking the $154.7 million mark set by 2006’s The Da Vinci Code during its first five days.

At this point, Spider-Man 3 is already a mere $1.4 short of matching 300, the current top international 2007 release. According to Sony Pictures Releasing Intl. senior VP Jay Sands, “The keys overseas were the spectacular creative campaign and the willingness of the cast and filmmakers to travel.”

In less than a week since its first international screening, the film has grossed well over 50% of what the first two franchise films reeled in—total ($403 million for Spider-Man and $318 million for Spider-Man 2) and it’s become the biggest opener ever in 20 of the international markets it has debuted in.

Sony Pictures assumed that the film’s early success is largely due to the fact that it appeals to a wider demographic and is more of a ‘date movie’ and a ‘family film’ than the earlier franchise members. The numbers: 63% of all moviegoers were under 25, 54% of the total spectators was male and 46% female.

Concerns and criticism over the movie’s budget—officially a whopping $254 million, but reportedly even more—can be waved away, since there’s already a nice amount of profit in less than a week. Amy Pascal, Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairmain, said that "The movie cost what it needed to cost to tell the story. It has lots of effects. Two different (versions of) Spider-Man, a red one and a black one. New villains like Sandman and Venom. It's a big, operatic story."

Seeing how many records Spider-Man 3 broke, or better yet, smashed to smithereens, there’s no way the franchise ends here. "There'll be a fourth and a fifth and sixth and a seventh," Amy Pascal said. "As many stories as Peter Parker has to tell, we'll do sequels."

"We're a lot further on [to start production on a new film] than we usually are. We usually don't talk about the next movie until the current one is released, but we're already talking about what we want to do in the next one."

Discussions to bring back the main players—director Sam Raimi and actors Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst—will commence once a script is in place.


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