- The Washington Times - Monday, May 6, 2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) "Spider-Man" has leaped from comic book to record book, becoming the first movie to hit $100 million in its first weekend.
The live-action film starring Tobey Maguire as the Marvel Comics web-slinger shattered box-office records with a $114 million debut, surpassing the previous best of $90.3 million taken in by "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in its first three days last fall.
With $39.3 million on Friday and $43.7 million on Saturday, director Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" also beat the single-day record of $33.5 million set by "Harry Potter" in its second day, according to studio figures yesterday.
"Not in our wildest expectations or dreams" did the filmmakers anticipate such demand for "Spider-Man," said Amy Pascal, head of Sony's Columbia Pictures, which released the film. The studio would have been thrilled with a debut in the $70 million to $80 million range, she said.
Playing in 3,615 theaters and running about $7,000 ahead of the old "Harry Potter" record, "Spider-Man" averaged $31,535 per location, a new high for films opening in 3,000 or more cinemas.
"Spider-Man" was also the fastest movie to reach $100 million, passing "Harry Potter" and "Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace," which both took five days to climb to $105 million.
"I don't think there's a distribution record in history that hasn't been shattered," said Jeff Blake, Sony president of worldwide marketing and distribution. "That $100 million opening weekend has always been sort of a great white whale of the movie business. To have 'Spider-Man' capture it is just thrilling."
Ubiquitous marketing, an audience built up through 40 years of comic readership, solid action and visual effects, generally positive reviews and a tale of an ordinary, misfit youth helped draw an across-the-board audience to "Spider-Man."
The crowds were split about 50-50 between men and women and between viewers older and younger than 25, Mr. Blake said.
"It is a very universal story everybody can relate to," Miss Pascal said. "He's a completely misunderstood guy that nobody recognizes and who just wants to do good. He's not a hero from planet Krypton. He's all of us."


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