Spidey sticks atop b.o.

Nabs $60 mil in week 2; '28 Weeks' distant 2nd

Despite four new wide releases entering the marketplace during the weekend, for the most part moviegoers in North America only had eyes for Sony Pictures' "Spider-Man 3." Everyone's favorite webslinger left theaters with an estimated $60 million in its sophomore frame, off a relatively modest 60% from its 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 its cume to $386.4 million. In all, the worldwide boxoffice tally is an amazing $628.5 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, an apocalyptic sequel to "28 Days Later," about a deadly virus that infects London, 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 "28 Days" accomplished that feat in just 1,260 theaters.

In a counterprogramming move, Universal Pictures' "Georgia Rule" put in its bid for female moviegoers during the weekend, but the R-rated drama failed to generate much interest 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 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 in its debut 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, though not in the numbers hoped for.

The only other film debuting in wide release for the 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 intrude on the present.

Meanwhile, "Spider-Man 3" blasted past the $200 million mark Saturday, or in just nine days of release, and tied with the first "Spider-Man" as the second-fastest film to reach that mark. Buena Vista Pictures' "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "Spider-Man 2," and Fox's "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith" each reached the milestone in eight days.

But executives at Sony were more than pleased with the performance of the third film in the 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," Sony Pictures Releasing president Rory Bruer said. (After 10 days in release, the first "Spider-Man" had garnered $223 million and "Spider-Man 2" $225 million.)

Added Bruer: "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, "Spider-Man 3" is running behind "Dead Man's Chest" for the comparative stretch. The midweek grosses for the Buena Vista film — which opened in July during the prime of summer, when 95%-plus of schools are out — were higher, and the pirate film collected $258.4 million in its first 10 days.

Imax contributed $2.8 million from 84 engagements to "Spider-Man 3" for the 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, "Pirates of the Caribbean: 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 at 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."

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 the 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 range.

In limited release, not many people saw IDP/Samuel Goldwyn's "Blind Dating"; 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. In 42 locales, the documentary grossed about $40,150 and averaged $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. Searchlight general sales manager Sheila Deloach said the distributor did some old-fashioned movie marketing on Mother's Day by giving away a gift bag and pies in about 100 theaters in anticipation of the film's expansion Friday in 57 more theaters.

For the week ending May 10, the national boxoffice was up 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 tally moved the year-to-date total to a 6% increase compared with 2006 ($3 billion vs. $2.82 billion), doubling the 3% advantage from a week earlier. Estimated ticket sales are up 3%.
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