‘Episode II’ Swats ‘Spider-Man’ From Top Spot

'Attack of the Clones' takes in $116 million in first four days.

As Yoda would say, “the Force is strong with this one” — and so are movie audiences.

Heralded by many fans as a return to form for the franchise, “Star Wars Episode II” cloned more than just an army of identical soldiers during its first four days of release. With many people returning for repeat viewing, “Attack of the Clones” cloned ticket after ticket to the tune of $116 million, ousting the record-smashing “Spider-Man” to become America’s #1 movie.

“Spider-Man” held its own with a $46 million weekend for a breathtaking overall total of $286 million in just three weeks. “Star Wars” didn’t break the opening-weekend record set by “Spider-Man” (see “Movie House: Spider-Man Breaks Box Office Record” ), but this past weekend clearly belonged to the “Star Wars” prequel tale of the Republic, the Jedi order, Sith Lords and lightsabers.

Arachnophobic folks or those otherwise averse to fantasy stories did have a couple of alternatives over the weekend (see “Movie House: A Boy and a Believer Take on Jedis and Spider-Man” ). Hugh Grant’s “About a Boy,” based on the best-selling Nick Hornby novel, earned a fourth-place slot with a modest $8.4 million opening. Infidelity thriller “Unfaithful” came in third, with $10.3 million in its second week of release.

The rest of the top 10 includes “The New Guy” at #5 with $6.5 million; “Changing Lanes” at #6 with $3.1 million; “The Scorpion King” at #7 with $2.2 million; “The Rookie” at #8 with $2 million; “Murder by Numbers” at #9 with $1.7 million; and finally, independent art-house fare “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” at #10 with $1.1 million, creeping into the top 10 after five weeks in theaters. “Ice Age” just missed the top 10, earning another million dollars for an overall $172 million in 10 weeks.

It’s likely audiences will continue to flock to “Star Wars” (and “Spider-Man”) next week, though the films will face competition from Al Pacino and Robin Williams in “Insomnia,” J. Lo’s “Enough,” director Roman Coppola’s “CQ” and the animated “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.”