‘Spider-Man’ Breaks Box-Office Record

Superhero tale rakes in $114 million in its first three days of release.

Face front, true believers! “Spider-Man” has proven that it can do whatever a monkey, a wizard or even a dinosaur can. Director Sam Raimi’s long-discussed superhero tale is now the first movie in the history of the art form to break the $100 million mark in its opening weekend, taking in $114 million in its first three days of release.

“Spider-Man,” starring Tobey Maguire as the beloved web-headed hero, dusted the likes of previous record holders “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” ($90.3 million) and “Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World” ($72.1), which held on to the top spot for a staggering five years until author J.K. Rowling’s little magician came along. Runners-up “Planet of the Apes” ($68.5) and “The Mummy Returns” ($68.1) didn’t stand a chance against the spider-like strength of the Marvel Comics legend’s first proper film adaptation.

Speaking of “The Mummy Returns,” the Rock’s “Mummy” spin-off, “The Scorpion King,” finished second over the weekend, taking in $9.6 million. “Spider-Man” ended the WWF title-holder’s two-week reign at the top spot. “Deuces Wild,” the 1950s gangland picture starring Stephen Dorff alongside a host of “The Sopranos” players, was the only new film besides “Spider-Man” to crack the top 10, generating $2.7 million to finish at #7 (see “Movie House: Woody Allen, ’Sopranos’ Stars Not Afraid Of Spiders” ).

The rest of the top 10 was rounded out by the Ben Affleck/ Samuel L. Jackson traffic thriller “Changing Lanes,” in at #3 with $5.6 million; Sandra Bullock’s serial-killing solving “Murder By Numbers,” in at #4 with $3.8 million; baseball flick “The Rookie” at #5 with $3.3 million; blonde-wig sporting Angelina Jolie’s “Life or Something Like It,” at #6 with $3.3 million; animated flick “Ice Age,” at #8 with $2.5 million; slasher-in-space “epic” “Jason X,” at #9 with $2.4 million (for an overall take of $10.3 million in the last two weeks); and finally, Jodie Foster’s “Panic Room” at #10 with $2.2 million, for an overall $91.1 million total.

Despite its opening weekend success, it’s hard to say exactly how much money “Spider-Man” will go on to make. “Harry Potter” took off with over $300 million by the time the dust settled under his broomstick and Spidey could easily make a comparable figure. But it faces a formidable challenge in the form of “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” which opens May 16th (see “Movie House: Can Spider-Man Do Whatever A Jedi Can?” ). “The Phantom Menace,” the first episode of George Lucas’ massively popular fantasy franchise, enjoyed a $64.8 million opening weekend back in 1999.

In any event, the killer opening numbers of “Spider-Man” bode well for the slew of comic-book movies that Hollywood currently has in development, not the least of which is “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” director Ang Lee’s Hulk flick. “Spider-Man” audiences were treated to a special “teaser” trailer for “The Hulk” over the weekend, featuring a close-up of actor Eric Bana’s face as he changed into the green Goliath. “Spider-Man 2″ is already in the works, in addition to “X-Men 2,” “Blade 3,” “Batman: Year One” and big screen interpretations of Marvel’s Punisher (see “Movie House: Punisher Is Next Comic Hero Headed For Big Screen” ), Sub-Mariner and Daredevil.