‘Spider-Man 3’ sets records

Film is North America's widest bow ever

Sony’s “Spider-Man 3” set records Tuesday in every one of the eight Asian territories in which it bowed. Pic opens in dozens of other territories in the next few days, culminating Friday in its domestic launch on 4,253 theaters, the widest North American opening of all time.

Pic launched Tuesday in more than a dozen key territories, including Japan, France, Germany, Italy and South Korea. Another eight go today, with 30 more on Thursday (including China, Australia and Russia) and an additional 30 on Friday (including the U.K. and India).

Euro markets should report their initial tallies today. In its opening day Tuesday, Sony estimated that the pic hit ¥415 million ($3.47 million) in Japan, beating “Spider-Man 2’s” ¥410 million. The first “Spider” took in ¥347 million in its first day in Japan in 2004.

In Korea, latest pic also beat out one-day marks for its predecessors, taking in 3.2 billion won ($3.44 million), Sony honcho Jeff Blake said.

In Hong Kong, Spidey saw the biggest opening day of all time, with $HK7.5 million ($958,984), besting previous record holder “Kung Fu Hustle.”

Pic also drew the biggest ever opening day of any film in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. In Taiwan, it saw the biggest weekday opening ever.

The list of domestic engagements could be tweaked by a few screens more or less but should comfortably beat the 4,163 locations in which DreamWorks bowed “Shrek 2” two years ago.

Sony launched “Spider-Man 2” at 4,152 in 2004.

The only other pics to have debuted in more than 4,000 locations are “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” “Madagascar,” “Superman Returns,” “Over the Hedge,” “Mission: Impossible III” and “Shark Tale.” All of those have been released since 2004, as Hollywood’s race to put up massive opening numbers escalates.

After eight splashy premieres worldwide, Sony unspooled its final preem Stateside on Monday night, showing “Spider-Man 3” on 14 screens simultaneously at the Tribeca Film Festival.

At the preem party in Gotham, Sony Corp. chairman-CEO Howard Stringer wondered whether the studio should have rolled out “Spider-Man” in North America last weekend, when overall biz was way down, giving Peter Parker even more of a chance to make his money grab.

But either way, the exec was confident, saying that this installment in the series is “more of a date movie” than the first two in the franchise and thus has the potential to draw even wider demographics.

“It’s not just spills and thrills,” Stringer said.

“Spider-Man 3” will be the first of a number of hotly anticipated summer sequels to swing into theaters, and the pic has two weekends with no true competish before having to grapple with Paramount/DreamWorks’ “Shrek the Third” on May 18. Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” sets sail the following weekend.

Last weekend, the multiplexes posted tepid numbers as Par-DreamWorks’ PG-13 thriller “Disturbia” topped the charts with just $9 million in its third straight win.

Speaking of “Spider-Man’s” imminent launch, a Sony distribution honcho declared, “This is a great way to start the summer. Box office for the past few weeks has been lackluster, and audiences seem very ready for summer.”

Sony has been adding 12:01 Friday ayem shows in North America to meet demand on the pic.