- The Washington Times - Monday, July 5, 2004

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Spider-Man has tossed Michael Moore from the top of the box office and snared another record in his web.

Unofficial estimates yesterday put the gross for “Spider-Man 2” at $150 million to $155 million since the film opened Wednesday, which would shatter the record for best Wednesday-Sunday opening, set in May by “Shrek 2” with $129 million.

“Spider-Man 2” distributor Sony declined to provide weekend estimates yesterday, saying it would report numbers today.

But other studios generally were tracking “Spider-Man 2” at about $90 million for the three-day weekend, which followed an estimated $64 million take on Wednesday and Thursday.

Official figures today could vary considerably, because having the Fourth of July on a Sunday throws off the formulas studios use to calculate weekend grosses. Studios base their numbers on actual Friday and Saturday grosses, with estimates added for the Sunday take.

“People are very distracted on the Fourth. Usually it’s barbecues and fireworks, not movies,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

Mr. Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” meanwhile, took in an estimated $17 million on Friday and Saturday, on a par with its $24 million opening three-day weekend, despite now playing in twice as many theaters — 1,725. The liberal filmmaker’s attack on the Bush administration pushed its total to $56.1 million.

“I can’t predict, but I think we have a terrific chance” of breaking $100 million, said Tom Ortenberg, president of Lions Gate Films, a distributor of “Fahrenheit 9/11.” “Regardless,” he added, “the picture is an overwhelming success.”

At about $90 million, the estimated Friday-Sunday haul for “Spider-Man 2” would fall well short of the record $114.8 million opening weekend of “Spider-Man” in May 2002. However, the original “Spider-Man” did not have millions of fans seeing it on the Wednesday and Thursday before the weekend.

On Wednesday, “Spider-Man 2” took in $40.5 million, a record single-day debut that beat the previous high of $39.4 million set by “Spider-Man.”

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