Web snags $114 million in weekend


A crime-fighting teen-ager who spins webs to scale Manhattan's tall buildings catapulted himself from comic-book hero to America's hero this weekend as Spider-Man became the first movie ever to earn $100 million in its first three days.

The film adventures of Marvel Comics' best-loved good guy rang up an estimated $114 million from Friday through Sunday - shattering the previous weekend opening record of $90.3 million, set in November by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Spider-Man earned a senses-tingling three times as much as the rest of the weekend's Top 10 movies combined.

Industry insiders credited the love story between Tobey Maguire, playing Spider-Man, and Kirsten Dunst, as Mary Jane, for much of the film's spectacular success.

"Audiences love Tobey and Kirsten," said Paul Dergarabedien, president of the trade group Exhibitor Relations. "Their relationship broadens the film's appeal beyond fans of the comic book."

Theaters across the country added extra morning and late-night Spider-Man showings to keep up with the demand.

The pattern for many movies now is to open with a splash and fade quickly.

But Dergarabedien says Spider-Man could have as many legs as a spider. "This is not a flash in the pan produced by opening-weekend hype," he said. "This is solid."

For comparison, Men in Black earned $51 million on its opening weekend - and ended up with $250 million. The all-time record, $600 million, is held by Titanic.

Dergarabedien says Spider-Man already has changed the game for Hollywood.

"A $100-million weekend has been like the Holy Grail," he said. "This sets a new standard for everyone ... movies like these become events, and you have to see them."

Executives at Columbia said the $100-million opening weekend box office surpassed even their "wildest dreams or expectations."

Columbia chairwoman Amy Pascal said the studio already was making plans for a Spider-Man sequel.

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