''Spider-Man 3'' was still No. 1, but it was down a surprising 60 percent this weekend

By Joshua Rich
May 14, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

In the wake of its record-breaking, high-swinging debut, Spider-Man 3 came back down to earth this weekend. The third installment of the webslinger franchise grossed $60 million from Friday to Sunday, according to early estimates, a sharp 60 percent dropoff from its benchmark-setting $151.1 mil premiere.

That?s a bit of a shock, for sure. But I?m not about to start spewing venom here, because there?s still plenty for Sony to boast about. Spider-Man 3 passed the $200 mil plateau in nine days on Saturday, becoming just the fifth movie to achieve that feat so quickly (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man?s Chest, Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, and Spider-Man 2 did so in eight days, and the original Spider-Man also did it in nine). It enjoyed the fourth-best second weekend of all time (trailing most of the movies mentioned above, along with Shrek 2). Its cumulative gross of $242.1 mil is certainly nothing to yawn about (the film already ranks at No. 44 on the all-time domestic chart), and its $621.7 mil worldwide take is truly astounding (the film places No. 30 on the all-time global chart).

Then again, you?ve gotta wonder how high Spidey will ultimately swing. That 60 percent decline shows that this superhero is merely mortal (at least monetarily speaking), and there?s no mistaking that interest in this film is lagging. Sure, chances are good that Spider-Man 3 will fly past the $800 mil worldwide mark and thus reach profitability. But on the whole, Spider-Man 3 is not keeping up with the original Spider-Man?s pace at the box office (that picture earned $71.4 mil in its second week). Moreover, with Shrek the Third bowing next weekend and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World?s End coming into the frame after that, realistically, Sony has just four days left to bring in some serious bucks and really head into the black, financially. So, yeah, the point is: Be glad that these are their problems and not yours.

Otherwise, the multiplex was a relatively quiet place this weekend. The zombie sequel 28 Weeks Later disappointed at No. 2 with $10 mil. That?s on par with the $10.1 mil debut of its predecessor, 2003?s 28 Days Later, but Days did so in merely half as many theaters — not good. Lindsay Lohan?s box-office dry run continued as Georgia Rule opened at No. 3 with just $5.9 mil (and with a lowly B- CinemaScore grade from audiences to boot). That marks virtually no improvement on the dreary $5.7 mil bow of her dud Just My Luck a year ago. Disturbia (No. 4) stayed strong in its fifth frame, tallying another $4.8 mil to bring its cumulative gross to $66.3 mil. The war spoof Delta Farce self-destructed at No. 5 with just $3.5 mil. And The Ex premiered way down at No. 12 with a heartbreaking $1.4 mil.

Nonetheless, thanks largely to Spider-Man 3?s high-flying ways, the overall box office finished nearly 12 percent above the same weekend last year (when the big new movie was the bomb Poseidon). And now that you know that the box office in good shape for another week, how about calling up that nice lady in your life and wishing her a Happy Mother?s Day? Because, my goodness, if you?re like me, you?ve got a whole heckuva lot to thank her for this year.