Six-day record? Sony says it's fuzzy math


Sony is suggesting that the Walt Disney Co. bent the rules to plunder some boxoffice glory in touting the opening weekend for "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End."

Leaving aside the mind-bending complexity of the dispute, the basic question is this: Did "At World's End" or Sony's "Spider-Man 3" amass the most boxoffice booty over its first six days of global release?

On Tuesday, Sony spokesman Steve Elzer cited "irregularities" in Disney/Buena Vista International's record-setting claims. "At World's End" opened in at least two territories -- Italy and France -- on the previous Tuesday, effectively adding a seventh day of grosses to a span Disney trumpeted as a six-day record, Elzer said.

"We had previews that generated $1.4 million," a BVI representative countered. "And in keeping with industry practice, we rolled it into the opening day."

Arguably, the flap originated when Sony opened "Spider-Man 3" on a Tuesday in 18 overseas markets and later claimed a six-day opening record of $232 million in addition to other more conventional landmarks.

Disney/BVI followed by heralding its "six-day" record of $251 million. But throughout the past weekend, verbal darts were flying -- mostly off the record -- about which distributor included or excluded certain boxoffice figures to bolster their respective claims.

BVI declined to make an official comeback to Elzer's statement.

"While there may or may not be other territories that opened prior to Wednesday, we believe that as more day-and-date releases enter the market, there should be a consistent standard in international boxoffice reporting," Elzer said. "This issue is larger than an opening-week boxoffice statistic."

He added that "for the record," "Spider-Man 3" grossed $418.1 million worldwide in its first seven days, with $256.7 coming from overseas and $161.4 million from North America.

Perhaps industryites should gird themselves for a new battle over whether "At World's End" or "Spider-Man 3" set a new seven-day record.