Spidey climbs higher, rewrites b.o. record

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"Spider-Man 3" rewrote the record books during the weekend, and Monday morning Sony Pictures rewrote its record-breaking numbers -- revising them upward.

Instead of an estimated $148 million, the third installment in Sam Raimi's super-saga actually took in $151 million in North America.

While studios occasionally have to lower their weekend estimates -- which are released Sunday morning and include projections for Sunday business -- the "Spider-Man" juggernaut proved so powerful that Sony's own predictions ultimately proved too modest.

Internationally, instead of the $227 million the studio had estimated, "Spider-Man" went on to grab $231 million by the end of its first weekend in theaters.

By Sunday night, the film, which began rolling out internationally Tuesday, had racked up a worldwide gross of $382 million, $7 million more than the initial estimate.

Of course, since "Spider-Man" already had broken a slew of boxoffice records -- including the record for biggest opening weekend in North America, previously held by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," which amassed $135.6 million in July -- the revised numbers simply meant that the Sony release eclipsed those marks by an even wider margin.

Showing in 4,252 theaters domestically, the film achieved a stunning per-theater average of $35,540.

Playing at 8,900 locations abroad, the movie scored the biggest weekend of all time in 29 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Japan, South Korea, China, Italy, Mexico and Brazil. In the process, it set the record for the biggest-grossing single day worldwide, as it took in $117.6 million Saturday, as well as for the biggest international opening and the biggest worldwide opening.

Domestically, in addition to establishing an opening-weekend record, the film set a new standard for biggest single day -- the $59.8 million it grossed Friday -- and the biggest per-theater average. The movie's grosses also received a boost from the 84 large-format Imax screens where it is playing as it set a record for the largest weekend gross at Imax theaters -- $4.8 million -- beating out the $3.6 million that Warner Bros. Pictures' "300" set two months ago.

"This weekend, more than 80% of the moviegoers around the world chose 'Spider-Man 3,' and we couldn't be more overwhelmed or elated by the global reception to this movie," Sony Pictures Entertainment vice chairman Jeff Blake said.

According to CinemaScore polling, the movie's audience in the U.S. titled somewhat more male than female -- 55% to 45% -- and 48% of the audience was under 25. Overall, audiences awarded the movie a grade of B-plus, though the younger section of the audience was most enthusiastic, awarding it an A-minus.

The super-fueled release, starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, resulted in an enormous surge at the boxoffice compared with the same weekend in 2006, when Paramount Pictures' "Mission: Impossible III" opened to $47.7 million. The 115 films tracked by The Hollywood Reporter accumulated a total of $189.6 million during the weekend, representing a 72% increase over last year's $110.2 million, and put 2007 on track for a recording-breaking summer.

Of course, with most of that coin flowing to "Spider-Man," something had to give.

Paramount's teen thriller "Disturbia," from DreamWorks and Montecito Pictures, ceded the top spot it had held for the past three weekends as it shifted to second place, grossing $5.8 million to bring its domestic cume to $60 million.

But "Lucky You," the weekend's only other new arrival, suffered. The gambling tale from Warners and Village Roadshow bowed in sixth place, drawing a bad hand with just $2.7 million. The film, starring Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore and directed by Curtis Hanson, also drew a thumbs-down from the folks that did see it: CinemaScore reported that the heavily female crowd that did turn up awarded it a C grade.

Among exclusive openers, several films did manage to stake out promising debuts. Fox Searchlight's "Waitress," from the late actress-turned-director Adrienne Shelly, bowed in four theaters in Los Angeles and New York, serving up $92,034 for a per-screen average of $23,009.

Lionsgate's "Away From Her," a drama about a woman with Alzheimer's starring Julie Christie in a critically applauded performance and directed by actress-turned-director Sarah Polley, attracted $53,267 in four theaters for a per-screen average of $13,317.

First Look's "Paris, je t'aime," a collection of 18 short films from 20 international directors that take place in and around Paris, brought in $39,242 in two theaters for a per-screen average of $19,621.
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