Massive midnight grosses help pic top 'Matrix'

“Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” has blasted its way into the record books with a $50 million first-day domestic gross, easily eclipsing the marks for opening day and best single day.

20th Century Fox estimated that the first shows after midnight Thursday alone grossed $16.5 million at about 2,900 of the 3,661 theaters where “Sith” is showing as those screeings sold out everywhere.

The massive midnight grosses gave “Sith” the start it needed to top the $44.8 million single-day box office, set a year ago by “Shrek 2″ on the second day of its run on a Saturday.

“Sith” also obliterated the biggest opening day record set in 2003 by “The Matrix Reloaded,” which grossed $42.5 million on a Thursday. For “Reloaded,” Warner Bros. reported that it grossed more than $10 million from its late-Wednesday and early-Thursday shows.

“Reloaded” currently owns the mark for biggest four-day domestic opening with $134.3 million while the largest three-day opening still belongs to “Spider-Man” with $114.8 million in May 2002.

Fox Intl., which is handling the film in over 100 nations, did not release foreign estimates for Thursday.

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