SANTA MONICA, California — Stop us if you've heard this one before: A man falls into a hole and has to get out again. No? OK, maybe you've heard it told like this: A man who has everything suddenly loses that which he values most and spends all his energy trying to get it back. Sound familiar yet? It should. That basic story structure is one of the oldest around, and all that makes it unique anymore is the depths each character is forced to plumb.
Take Spider-Man, for instance. By the middle of his third film poor old Peter Parker has lost the love of his life, his best friend, heck, even his identity to that nasty Venom. Fans may stop at this point to ask themselves, "Just how far can Spidey fall?"
They're not alone. Following the biggest opening weekend in movie history, it's a question that's vexing box-office prognosticators as well.
First, the good news for fans of the man they call Amazing: While Sandman, Venom and the New Goblin stretched our hero to the limit of his powers, the less intimidating trio of "Delta Farce," a military comedy starring Larry the Cable Guy; "28 Weeks Later," a follow-up to the 2002 zombie smash "28 Days Later"; and "Georgia Rule," a dramedy with Lindsay Lohan, shouldn't put a chink in his armor. "Spider-Man 3" will win the weekend, and it will do so walking (or swinging) away.
But with how much? "Spider-Man" fell 38 percent in its second weekend to earn a hefty $71.4 million. "Spider-Man 2," meanwhile, dropped somewhat more precipitously, falling nearly 50 percent to pull in with just $45.2 million. After a dominating haul of $151 million in its first frame, even a drop of 50 percent would still give "Spider-Man 3" the record for biggest second weekend ever.
Anything less than that, however, would have to be considered a major disappointment and would indicate that generally negative word-of-mouth has had a major impact on the success of the film. With no real competition, "Spider-Man 3" has to make as much money as it can this weekend to match its predecessors — at job that won't get any easier. Think the New Goblin is a formidable foe? Try the Green Ogre. "Shrek the Third" opens next week and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" the week after.
Just how far can Spidey fall? We asked our box-office experts.
The Predictions: So "Spider-Man 3" will win the weekend — no surprise there. But after an enormous first frame followed by disagreeable reviews, figuring out just how much our friendly neighborhood hero makes may require divine intervention. Who better to ask, then, than a Jenkins? Co-founder of Jenkins Entertainment (along with his father Jerry, author of the best selling "Left Behind" series) Dallas Jenkins recently completed work on his feature-length directorial debut, "Midnight Clear," starring Stephen Baldwin, which is due out in December.
What's the #1 flick? How much will it rake in?
Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: "Spider-Man 3" ($45 million)
"As much as I enjoyed '28 Weeks Later' (a rare worthy sequel), I think I'm going to have to go with the much more disappointing sequel goliath that is 'Spider-Man 3.' An opening weekend of $151 million?!? You don't mess with that. But how far does it fall? How about to $45 million?"
Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: "Spider-Man 3" ($60 million)
"This is a tough weekend to call, because although Spidey cast an enormous worldwide web last weekend, everyone I know who's seen it was disappointed. Word-of-mouth can't be very strong, but even a 50 percent dropoff would still set a second-weekend record. Regardless, I can't see Lindsay Lohan and Jane Fonda coming anywhere near Topher, Tobey and T.H. Church. I'm gonna predict a 60 percent drop — which would still be a super-heroic $60 million."
Dallas Jenkins, "Midnight Clear" director: "Spider-Man 3" ($65 million)
"I'm going to go out on a limb here, be bold, and say that 'Spider-Man 3' will continue its run as the sleeper hit of the spring with its second week as the #1 film. That said, it's going to take a bigger tumble than previous Spidey films because even my best friend, who was a freak for the first two, said the film sucked. I think a little less than a 60 percent drop from last week sounds about right, so I'm going with $65 million."
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