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Spidey’s webbed feat rewrites record books

$100 million weekend threshold crossed

HOLLYWOOD — How big was the “Spidey” web?

“Invent a new word, because it’s better than great,” ACNielsen EDI exec veep Dan Marks suggested. “It’s so big the mind has trouble comprehending how great a record they’ve set.”

Indeed, normally loquacious industryites sputtered searching for words to describe how enormous a success Sony had recorded with the estimated $114 million bow of “Spider-Man” of this weekend.

For starters, consider that in the past Hollywood has marked in weeks how quickly pics reach $100 million in box office. But in the case of “Spider-Man,” that record would have to be marked in hours over its third day of release.

“It’s really something,” Sony marketing and distrib topper Jeff Blake mused. “That $100 million weekend has been kind of the great white whale of exhibition.”

And Moby Dick is now belly up.

The estimated “Spidey” opening surpassed previous record opener “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by a whopping $23.7 million. But that feat is even more amazing when one recalls Warner Bros.’ unspooled Harry Potter in November on roughly 8,100 screens, or 8% more screens than “Spider-Man” went out on this weekend.

Note, too, that “Harry” beat a more than 4-year-old record held by Universal’s “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” — at $90.2 million — that was set over a four-day Memorial Day frame.

“Spider-Man” was helped by a shorter running time than that of “Harry,” at 2 hours vs. 2:35. That helped distrib squeeze in more showtimes, and it also appears older-skewing, PG13-rated “Spidey” drew better at midnight showings than PG-rated “Harry.”

Meanwhile, the opening record set by “Spider-Man” may be daunting, but it’s not unbeatable. It’s still possible — at least theoretically — to beat the amazing “Spider-Man” mark, as pic didn’t sell out all its shows in all markets by a longshot.

Still, there’s no shortage of B.O. records to write in the industry record books for the time being:

  • Saturday’s $43.7 million in B.O. beat a one-day mark set by “Harry Potter,” which rang up a then-record $33.5 million over its second day of release Nov. 17.

  • The all-time high for average gross per venue average, at $31,535.

  • Pic more than doubled the studio-best opening perf of $50.1 million, set by Sony’s “Men in Black” in July 1997.

  • And “Spidey” spun career-bests for helmer Sam Raimi and all cast members including topliner Tobey Maguire, whose previous best bow came with 1998’s “Pleasantville” at $8.9 million.