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‘Clones’ takes a $30.1 bow

Epic opened in 3,161 domestic theaters

The first-stage launch was successful – and then some.

George Lucas’ latest prequel to his space-adventure series, “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones,” soared into its opening-frame orbit with first-day domestic grosses of $30.1 million.

Distrib unspooled “Attack of the Clones” on 6,000 screens in 3,161 domestic theaters plus 74 international territories Thursday. Observers expect “Clones” to gross up to $100 million through Sunday, though noone expects its Friday-to-Sunday box office to approach Sony’s recent $114.8 million record bow of “Spider-Man.”

The Thursday B.O. for “Clones” appeared to set a single-day record for a mid-week sesh, Fox distrib prexy Bruce Snyder said. “Spidey” holds the overall single-day record of $43.6 million, set on a recent Saturday.

“We didn’t set out to break records (but) it looks like we did,” Snyder said.

The Fox exec added that a tour of opening-day venues in L.A. left him pleased indeed. “Seeing people have the kind of good time they did makes this job fun,” he said.

Thursday grosses for other pics in current distribution weren’t immediately available, but an unofficial source said that “Spider-man” earned $3.5 million on Thursday, its fourteenth day in theaters.

Universal’s adult-skewing laffer “About a Boy” is the only other wide opener this weekend. “Boy” bowed today on 1,207 domestic screens, with an additional 500 engagements to be added over the following Memorial Day frame.