Shrek to bug Spidey

Ogre's poised to step on competion

Spidey seems certain to fall from his No. 1 perch when his first real competish arrives this weekend in the form of “Shrek the Third,” the latest in the CG franchise from Paramount and DreamWorks. But what are the webslinger’s prospects for holding onto his newly minted B.O. records?

“Shrek 2” and “Spider-Man 2” opened six weeks apart in 2004, and the green guy squished the spider: The last “Shrek” pic raked in $108 million over its opening weekend vs. just $88.1 million for the second “Spider-Man” pic.

But while “Shrek the Third” seems destined to take No. 1 come Sunday, the toon faces a handicap in its effort to wrestle away the records for biggest-ever opening day and weekend recently set by “Spider-Man 3”: Many of the PG-rated “Shrek” fans will be buying tickets at reduced prices.

“Two-thirds of ‘Shrek’ (tickets) will be at kids’ prices,” said Rob Moore, Par prexy of marketing, distribution and worldwide operations. Thus, Moore added, even if the pic can get to the same number of admissions as “Spider-Man 3,” it wouldn’t match Spidey’s towering weekend gross of $151.1 million.

What’s more, thanks to a cadre of younger fans, “Shrek the Third” surely won’t hit the same opening Friday numbers as “Spider-Man 3”; Sony was able to capitalize on midnight and later shows, pushing opening day B.O. to $59.8 million, the biggest ever.

However, the ogre will gain major traction through the weekend, as matinees play powerfully with families. And the PG pic’s second weekend dip, could be softer than the 60% for “Spider-Man 3.”

Though “Shrek the Third” may not hit “Spider-Man 3’s” record first-weekend numbers, Par’s Moore is encouraged by Peter Parker’s promising run.

“When you look at the first movie (of the summer), it gets people back to theaters,” he said. “The visual experience that (‘Spider-Man’) accomplished was tremendous. People get to see some giant f/x, and that gets them focused again.”

The one record “Spider-Man” was not able to crush was best opening week ever, which still belongs to “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and its $196 million.

That has Disney execs hopeful that they can sail past “Spider-Man 3” with their next “Pirates” pic, which opens May 25.

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