'Spider-Man 3' still rules boxoffice with $60 mil

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With four new wide releases entering the marketplace this weekend, for the most part moviegoers in North America only had eyes for Sony's "Spider-Man 3" as everyone's favorite webslinger left theaters with an estimated $60 million on its sophomore frame, off a relatively modest 60% from its staggering record breaking debut of $151.1 million. The third installment based on the Marvel Comics character has racked up a riveting estimate of $242.1 million in 10 days.

On the international stage, the Tobey Maguire starrer pulled in an estimated $85.5 million during the weekend, advancing the cume to $380 million, and combined with domestic for a worldwide boxoffice tally of an amazing $622.1 million for the Sam Raimi-helmed feature.

Of the weekend's new arrivals, 20th Century Fox's "28 Weeks Later," from Fox Atomic, had the best showing. The sci-fi thriller is an apocalyptic sequel to "28 Days Later," a story about a deadly virus that infects London, and easily captured the second spot with a somewhat disappointing estimate of $10 million from 2,303 theaters. The R-rated "28 Weeks," from director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and starring Robert Carlyle, opened near the first film's $10.1 million debut, but "Days" accomplished that feat with just 1,260 theaters.

In a counterprogramming move Universal's "Georgia Rule" put in its bid for female moviegoers this weekend, but the R-rated drama failed to generate much interest at the boxoffice with a third-place finish and an estimate of a weak $5.9 million from 2,523 sites. Lindsay Lohan, Jane Fonda and Felicity Huffman star in the Morgan Creek production, which was directed by industry veteran Garry Marshall. As projected, the audience was largely older females.

Holding up nicely in the fourth slot -- thanks to positive word of mouth -- was Paramount's "Disturbia," which slipped a meager 18% in its fifth weekend to scare up an estimated $4.8 million. Produced by DreamWorks and Montecito Pictures, the PG-13 film has collected an estimated $66.3 million so far.

Lionsgate's "Delta Farce" didn't provide much firepower at the boxoffice on its debut this weekend as the comedy marched into the fifth spot with an estimated $3.5 million from 1,931 theaters. Not surprisingly, the PG-13 picture, starring Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall and DJ Qualls and helmed by C.B. Harding, skewed young and male, but not in the numbers hoped for.

The only other film debuting in wide release this weekend was MGM's "The Ex," from Mark Cuban's 2929 Prods. The PG-13 romantic comedy, starring Zach Braff and Amanda Peet, arrived in the 12th slot with a bleak estimate of $1.4 million from 1,009 locations. Jesse Peretz helmed the comedy about two newlyweds who face challenges from a previous relationship that intrudes into the present.

But back to the weekend's top film: "Spider-Man 3" blasted past the $200 million mark on Saturday, or in just nine days of release, and tied with the first "Spider-Man" picture with the second-fastest time to reach that level at the boxoffice. Buena Vista's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "Spider-Man 2," and Fox's "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" each reached that same milestone in eight days.

But executives at Sony were more than pleased with performance of the third film in the Spider-Man franchise. "To be at this place and time with 'Spider-Man 3' -- in comparison (with the first two films) -- we are extremely happy with the results," said an upbeat Rory Bruer, president of Sony Pictures Releasing. After 10 days in release, "Spider-Man" had garnered $223 million and "Spider-Man 2" had $225 million in the coffers. Bruer went on to add, "And $60 million is an incredible opening weekend for a film, let alone for a holding weekend."

But while besting the first two "Spider-Man" films at the 10-day mark, "Dead Man's Chest" is running ahead of "Spider-Man 3" at that point of its release. The mid-week grosses for the Buena Vista film -- which opened in July during the primetime of summer when 95%-plus of schools are out -- were higher than Spidey's, and the pirate film had collected $258.4 million in its first 10 days.

Imax contributed $2.8 million from 84 engagements to "Spider-Man 3" this session, a second-weekend high for the large screen format. The 10-day total from Imax screens is $9.8 million, the quickest a film has reached that level in Imax history.

Looking ahead to the openings of Paramount's "Shrek the Third" from DreamWorks and "Pirates of the Carribean: At Worlds End" and other tentpoles coming down the pipeline, Bruer said, "I think you're going to see the boxoffice explode like we've never seen before, which will enhance every film in the marketplace."

Commenting on the debut of "28 Weeks," Bert Livingston, senior vp distribution for 20th Century Fox, said, "It's a good opening number, and with the strong reviews I think it bodes well for the weeks ahead. This is not a traditional horror film but more of a sophisticated thriller, and I don't think it will fall off like a traditional horror film."

All in all, and thanks largely to the tremendous hold of "Spider-Man 3," the weekend boxoffice was up nearly 14% from the comparable frame last year when Paramount's "Mission: Impossible III" was in the top spot with $25 million. The estimated total for this weekend's top 12 films was $96.9 million. The Hollywood Reporter projects the total for all films to be in the low-to-mid $110 million area.

In the world of limited releases, not many people saw IDP/Samuel Goldwyn's "Blind Dating," as the film was in 74 theaters and pulled in an estimated $64,010. The romantic comedy averaged a austere $865 per theater.

ThinkFilm's "The Hip Hop Project" did only slightly better as it was in 42 locales and grossed approximately $40,150. The documentary averaged just $956 per theater.

Fox Searchlight's "Waitress" added 61 locations on its sophomore weekend, bringing the total to 65, and grossed an estimated $636,221. The comedy averaged a respectable $9,788 per theater and has gleaned $788,165 to date. Sheila Deloach, general sales manager for Searchlight, said the distributor did some old-fashioned movie marketing on Mother's Day by giving away a gift bag and pies in some 100 theaters, in anticipation of the film's expansion on Friday to 57 more theaters.

For the week ending May 10, the national boxoffice was up a stunning 67% from the comparable seven-day period a year ago ($243.2 million vs. $145.5 million) and marked the largest first week of May in boxoffice history. That hefty tally moved the year-to-date total to a 6% increase compared with 2006 ($3.00 billion vs. $2.82 billion) -- doubling the 3% advantage from a week earlier. Estimated ticket sales for the year-to-date are up 3% from last year's comparable period.
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