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''Spider-Man 3'' shatters records

”Spider-Man 3” shatters nearly every box office record, but Joshua Rich wonders whether this Spidey has legs

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Well, everyone, Spidey did it! Spider-Man 3 earned $148 million, according to Sunday’s estimates, to swing far past the record for the biggest single weekend of all time (the previous titleholder: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest‘s $135.6 mil). That total is so huge that it exceeds the highest early projections by box office trackers like me and even Sony, whose most ambitious guess had been $145 mil. Some other remarkable stats:

· Spider-Man 3 played in more venues than any other movie in history (4,252), but that didn’t keep it from earning a gigantic $34,807 per-theater average, the best ever among wide releases.

· This third installment in the Tobey Maguire superhero franchise far outpaced the first-weekend performances of the first two. Spider-Man took in $114.8 mil in 2002, and Spider-Man 2 (which debuted on a Wednesday) snared $88.2 mil in 2004.

· Spider-Man 3 moved past the $100 mil mark in just two days; Pirates 2 is the only other movie to do that. · As you read here yesterday, Spidey’s $59.3 mil take on Friday was the biggest single day of all time. But get this: Assuming estimates hold, its Saturday ($51 mil) and Sunday ($37.7) grosses will be the best ever for those days of the week as well.

· The film also broke records in its IMAX engagements. It earned $4.76 in 84 domestic IMAX sites, for a whopping per-screen average of $56,760.

· Worldwide, director Sam Raimi’s comic book adaptation has already earned more than $375 mil, another single-weekend record. Spider-Man 3 already stands at No. 96 on the list of all time global box office earners.

· The overall year-to-date box office is up 6 percent over last year, with attendance up 3.6 percent.

Yowza! Kirsten Dunst sure can sing! Now, okay, lemme just add a few sober notes. First, impressive as those numbers are, there’s no doubt that the film’s box office needs to continue multiplying like that mysterious black goo from outer space: Considering its presumed production and marketing cost around $400 mil and the fact that Sony will have to split its grosses with theater owners, Spider-Man 3 must earn about $800 mil worldwide to break even. And then there’s this caveat: While critics didn’t seem to love this movie (it scored a soft 60 out of 100 on Metacritic.com), audiences didn’t either. Yeah, you read that right. Sure, they crowded multiplexes in record numbers this weekend, but viewers gave the film a merely moderate B+ CinemaScore review, which is lower than you’d expect for a record-breaking blockbuster. While a steep decline is inevitable when such big numbers are in play, this CinemaScore mark portends a steeper drop than usual in the weeks to come.

Anyway, I suppose there were a few other movies at the multiplex this weekend. Not that anybody went to see them in droves. Disturbia ($5.7 mil), Fracture ($3.4 mil), The Invisible ($3.1 mil), and Next ($2.8 mil) rounded out the top five, while the only other wide opener, Lucky You, came in a cursed No. 6 with $2.5 mil. Nay, the small-release front is where the frame’s other successes could be found. Keri Russell’s Southern-baked comedy Waitress cooked up a sweet $22,875 average in eight locations. The ensemble piece Paris, Je T’aime averaged $18,900 in two places. And Sarah Polley’s dramatic directorial debut, Away From Her, earned a nice $14,000 average in four theaters.

Overall, yep, you guessed it: The box office was up a gargantuan 73 percent over the same period a year ago, when Mission: Impossible III opened with $47.7 mil. Boy, $47.7 mil — that that just doesn’t seem like such a big gross anymore, huh?