Spidey spins world

Rollout starts in Oz with $1.1 mil 1st-day B.O.

“Spider-Man 2” kicked off its offshore adventure in Australia in the first wave of a three-pronged international rollout, spinning a socko A$1.6 million ($1.12 million) on 409 screens to become the industry’s biggest non-holiday Wednesday.

That was 8% below “Spider-Man,” which bowed on 473 on a Thursday, the traditional opening day. Distrib Columbia TriStar was adding 32 prints Thursday.

The studio’s senior exec VP international Mark Zucker is confident the webslinger’s Wednesday-Sunday gross will easily beat the original’s $7.4 million four-day tally.

“It’s a great spot to be in,” said Zucker, noting school vacations have begun in Victoria and Queensland and will extend to the rest of the country next week.

He contends the opening day figures of both editions are on par considering the disparity in screens.

‘Shrek’ strong

Encouragingly for UIP and DreamWorks, “Shrek 2” held superbly against Sony’s superhero in Oz, minting an estimated $805,000 Wednesday to elevate its 14-day haul to a monstrous $20.5 million.

Spidey sequel is rolling out on more than 4,000 prints in 34 markets over the next few days, blanketing Latin America and the piracy-blighted Russia and Asian territories and previewing over the weekend in Japan.

Sam Raimi-helmed pic launches the following weekend in Japan, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Scandinavia. The weekend after that, it hits the rest of Europe except Italy, where it will unspool Sept. 16.

In total, it will play on at least 11,000 prints vs. the original’s 9,900. This time the distrib is going out more broadly in Japan and Russia and deploying more dubbed versions in Mexico and Brazil to ensure deeper penetration.

Great expectations

Zucker won’t predict how high “Spider-Man 2” will fly, but some industry mavens believe it’s capable of outrunning the original’s $418 million international B.O., although it’s bowing two weeks after “Shrek 2” in some territories and just a week later in Germany.

“Our expectations are that it will do just great,” said Zucker. “The reviews in the U.S. have been the best of any film this year. We have a lot more promotional partners than last time and our licensing people have arranged to have more products, so exposure for the film is greater. And we have summer holidays playing time, whereas the original went out in May and June.”

Explaining the three-wave release strategy, Zucker said: “We wanted to open close to domestic but we did not want to go out in Europe during the Euro 2004 soccer semi-finals (June 30-July 1) and final (July 4). We wanted school vacations where possible.”

As for the decision to avoid the summer in Italy, he said, “We’re sure we can do a lot more business in September.”

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