The ‘Sith’ hits the fans

Grossing $158.5 million in its first four days, “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” finished George Lucas’ sci-fi epic like it started in 1977, raising the bar for blockbusters. Released day-and-date by 20th Century Fox in 115 territories, “Sith” has already taken in $303 million, a worldwide opening record. Opening in 3,661 theaters with a massive 9,000-plus print count domestically, “Sith” claimed a quiver of records, including the largest four-day opening, outpacing 2003’s “The Matrix Reloaded,” which rang up $134.3 in its four-day opening span. “Sith” began setting records as soon as it started playing at midnight Thursday morning. Those shows brought in a record $16.9 million. The full-day Thursday gross of $50 million handily claimed the single-day gross title, setting aside the $44.8 million earned on its opening Saturday. Still, “Spider-Man’s” $114.8 million opening record remains the gold standard for Friday-Sunday spans, since “Sith” took in $108.5 million over the span. And on the all-time opening weekend chart, ignoring the duration of the “weekend,” the “Sith” number is second behind the $180 million earned by “Spider-Man 2” last summer on a six-day opening stretch that ran from Wednesday through Monday. Despite “Sith’s” dominance of the marketplace – it accounted for about two-thirds of all ticket sales this weekend – there were several strong holdover performances. New Line’s “Monster-in-Law” dipped just 38% from last week’s opening to $14.4 million to claim the No. 2 spot. The cumulative total on the Jennifer Lopez-Jane Fonda comedy is $44.2 million. Lions Gate’s “Crash” displayed some remarkable resiliency, dipping just 22% in its third week to $5.5 million, good for fourth place. The Paul Haggis-helmed movie has collected a total of $27.6 million. Universal’s “Kicking & Screaming” brought in $10.5 million in a 48% drop, ranking it third for the frame and raising its total to $34 million. “Star Wars” seemed to take the biggest bite out of other male-skewing titles in the marketplace. Rogue’s “Unleashed” withered 65% in its second week to $3.8 million.

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