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first_imgA record $59 million opening day was followed by $51 million on Saturday, a second-day record. The studio estimates $37.7 million in tickets sales for Sunday, which would be a third-day record. The film also sold out at every showing in 84 IMAX theaters where it played – a $4.8 million IMAX record. Final figures will be released later today. Rory Bruer, Sony’s head of domestic distribution, called the opening weekend gross “a crazy, crazy number.” “It’s impossible to get your head around it – doing this kind of business opening on May 4, when kids are still in school,” Bruer said. “You just don’t know where the limit lies. These are things that no one has ever seen before, and it bodes well not only for us, but for the entire industry.” Directed by Sam Raimi, “Spider-Man 3” once again stars Maguire in the title role. Thomas Haden Church as Sandman and Topher Grace as Venom play the villains. Mixed reviews of the film did nothing to deter fans, ranging from children to grandparents. Much has been made of the film’s enormous $250 million-plus production budget, but that expense has already been exceeded by the worldwide box office grosses. Sony set the framework for such an astounding debut by releasing 11,000 prints of the movie into the marketplace. This allowed the record 4,252 theaters it opened in to play the film on multiple screens, making it possible for more fans to get in during the first three days. “Spider-Man 3” spun webs of gold all over the box office record books, snaring a history-making opening weekend gross of $148 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. The latest adventures of Peter Parker and his web-slinging alter ego obliterated the previous record of $135 million set just last summer by “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” Combined with overseas ticket sales of $227 million, the Sony Pictures Entertainment release already has a worldwide gross of $375 million, shattering the previous worldwide record of $254 million set by “Star Wars: EpisodeIII – Revenge of the Sith” two years ago. As it officially kicked off its 18-week summer movie season this weekend, this is a powerful sign of strength for a movie industry that was starting to be written off during a record slump just two summers ago. “It means if there’s a movie people want to see, it is a healthy and vibrant business,” said studio head Amy Pascal, who attended a showing Friday night at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, where “Spider-Man 3” was introduced by star Tobey Maguire. “People love the movie. They are going crazy. There’s cheering. There’s crying. It’s fantastic. I don’t think I could be any happier than I am right now.” The stupendous weekend for the popular Marvel Comics franchise was especially gratifying for Sony. The second “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, released by Disney, had snatched away the opening-weekend record from the original “Spider-Man” which had astounded the movie industry in 2002 with a debut of $114.8 million. It was the first time any movie had a $100 million opening weekend. The question now is how much “Spider-Man 3” can ultimately make. It has the playing field pretty much to itself until “Shrek the Third” opens on May 18, to be followed a week later by “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.” “Obviously it will race to $200 million,” said box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers. “It’s a can’t-lose situation for `Spider-Man’ because it opened so enormously and is going to capitalize on this record-breaking weekend. Even if it drops by 50 percent next weekend, it still makes over $70 million. We’ve never seen numbers like this before.” No other movie in the marketplace had much of a chance against Spidey. The Paramount Pictures/Dreamworks release “Disturbia” tossed to a very distant second place after three weeks in the No. 1 spot. Still, “Disturbia” had just a modest drop, as it earned another $5.7 million to bring its four-week gross to $59.8 million just a little more than the opening day of “Spider-Man 3.” A counterprogramming move by Warner Bros. was a spectacular failure as the Eric Bana-Drew Barrymore poker romance flick “Lucky You” opened in sixth place with a miserable gross of $2.5 million. The film’s release had already been delayed by a year. “Obviously, every other movie was standing in the shadows of `Spider-Man,’ which was absolutely expected,” Dergarabedian said. “Now the big guns are on the way, and it’s the beginning of the summer battle. `Spider-Man’ is creating a huge momentum, which is the absolute perfect scenario to start summer 2007.” [email protected] (818) 713-3758 Top movies Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released today. 1. “Spider-Man 3,” $148 million. 2. “Disturbia,” $5.7 million. 3. “Fracture,” $3.4 million. 4. “The Invisible,” $3.1 million. 5. “Next,” $2.8 million. 6. “Lucky You,” $2.5 million. 7. “Meet the Robinsons,” $2.46 million. 8. “Blades of Glory,” $2.3 million. 9. “Hot Fuzz,” $2.1 million. 10. “Are We Done Yet?”, $1.7 million. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. 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