Spidey’s back for more records

Superhero sequel beats 'King's' coin

Sony’s “Spider-Man 2” bit off a huge chunk of box office in its opening day, setting records by racking up $40.5 million Wednesday from 4,152 theaters.

Webslinger’s total beats the original “Spider-Man’s” $39.4 million opening Friday and bests the previous high mark for a Wednesday, the $34.5 million drawn by “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

Depending on where you sit, the Spidey sequel also owns a piece of the best opening day record, too. Last year, Warner Bros.’ “The Matrix Reloaded” opened on a Thursday with $42.5 million, but the figure comes with an asterisk because about $5 million came from previews the night before that started as early as 10 p.m.

Exhibs started playing “Spider-Man 2” at the stroke of midnight on Wednesday in more than 2,500 locations, Sony distrib prexy Rory Bruer said.

Results of exit surveys won’t be available for a few days, but Bruer said, “I got a sneak peek and it’s playing to everyone.”

Boffo debut augurs a huge weekend, though Sony stayed away from prognostication.

Most previous blockbusters bowing midweek have had their biggest single day on their first day. For example, after “Return of the King’s” first day, the second best day of its run came on Saturday when it posted $27.5 million. Similarly, “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” grossed $28.5 million on its opening Wednesday and then $24.4 million on its first Saturday.

Both pics, though, had huge pent-up fan demand, with lines of people camping out for the first show.

The “Spider-Man” franchise is arguably one of the broadest blockbuster properties, which should help it play strongly through the weekend.

Ticket sales site Fandango.com reported that as of 10 a.m. Thursday, “Spider-Man 2” accounted for 81% of its sales.

Next in Sony’s sights is the all-time-best six-day record, currently held by “The Matrix Reloaded” at $152 million.

Rival exhibs are carefully watching to see what kind of hit they take from “Spider-Man.”

“Fahrenheit 9/11” held up well, doing $3.3 million of business on Wednesday, down only 11% from Tuesday’s $3.8 million.

Lions Gate and IFC expanded the Michael Moore docu on Wednesday to 1,184 theaters, which was also responsible for minimizing the loss. But distribs were hopeful that the perf against Spidey meant “9/11” could play well while the comicbook film dominates the weekend.

“I think ‘Spider-Man’ will have an effect on us,” said Lions Gate prexy Tom Ortenberg, “but it will not be devastating. By Friday, the marketplace should absorb the monstrous business of ‘Spider-Man’ and the rest of the pictures, ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ included, should find their level.”

Taking a bigger Spidey hit on Wednesday was “DodgeBall,” which had been playing well in midweek but dipped to $1.8 million for the day, down 26% from Tuesday’s $2.4 million. Cume now stands at $74.5 million.

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