When spotting the prehistoric dinos in “The Lost World,” the scientists can’t believe their eyes. Readers should be equally incredulous when it comes to the media frenzy surrounding the pic’s mammoth debut.

After the $93 million bow, the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press asserted that the movie had already recovered its cost.

“The film cost about $75 million to make,” the AP declared, “so (Steven) Spielberg and Universal recouped their costs in one weekend.” That’s not quite how film economics work, however.

Given the extraordinary turnout, Universal will probably collect about 75% of box office revenues, or roughly $69 million. Subtract at least $30 million in prints and advertising costs, and that leaves $39 million.

The Journal was a little more guarded: “It means that ‘The Lost World’ has managed to recoup its expensive $75 million production budget in a single weekend.”

But that doesn’t take into account Spielberg’s hefty backend participation or studio overhead. To say nothing of the vagaries of studios’ bookkeeping (which still claim red ink for hits like “Forrest Gump”).

Mighty ducks

At least the pic is getting more respect than its Web site. On Tuesday, jokers on the Web page replaced the film’s trademark dinosaur logo with a profile of a prehistoric-looking fowl and the title “The Lost Pond: Jurassic Duck.” The pranksters left a one-word calling card: “hackers.”

“I thought it was amusing,” Alan Sutton, U’s VP for distribution and marketing, told Reuters on Wednesday. U later restored the page to its original form, but there are no plans to pursue the pranksters. “It was just done in a spirit of fun,” Sutton said.

A different ‘World’

“Lost World” at 1 p.m. Sunday. No, not that one. This is the one that opened in 1925 and was based on the Arthur Conan Doyle novel. (Was he the Michael Crichton of his day?) The effects cost a then-staggering $1 million.

The pic was remade in 1960 and 1993. Combined, however, the three movies didn’t make as much at the box office as the Spielberg tale made in a single day.

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