Can ‘Spider-Man 2’ Break Own Records?
LOS ANGELES – Peter Parker is older, wiser and better-equipped to navigate the web of pitfalls that accompany the superhero life. The real issue is: Can he manage a raise in pay?
“Spider-Man 2” arrives Wednesday with a huge box-office legacy to live up to. The first “Spider-Man” obliterated records by selling $114.8 million in tickets over its opening weekend, almost $25 million more than the previous champ, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
With fans in a fever for the sequel, distributor Sony can count on a big return with “Spider-Man 2,” whether or not the movie breaks opening-weekend records.
Yet in a town of ever-rising expectations, big sequels often are considered letdowns if they fail to exceed the take of their predecessors.
“Yes, I think for Hollywood, if this movie doesn’t make, I don’t know, some number they all have in their head, I don’t know what it is, then it will be considered a failure,” said Sam Raimi, who directed both “Spider-Man” movies and is set to make a third due out in May 2007. “If it makes above that number, I think it will be considered a success.”
How “Spider-Man 2” does in relation to 2004’s other top flicks also will reflect on the franchise. At $403.7 million domestically, “Spider-Man” easily held the top box-office spot among films released in 2002, finishing some $62 million ahead of its closest rival, “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.”
“Spider-Man 2” already has stiffer competition. Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” became a surprise blockbuster with $377 million. This year’s top-grossing “Shrek 2” is just crossing the $400 million mark and has enough steam left to reach $425 million or more. At $108 million over its opening three-day weekend, “Shrek 2” also ran a close second to “Spider-Man” for biggest debut ever.
Tobey Maguire reprises his role as Marvel Comics youth Peter Parker, transformed by a mutant spider’s bite into the superhero. Kirsten Dunst, James Franco and other co-stars also return, and Alfred Molina plays Spider-Man’s new nemesis, Doc Ock.
Unlike “Spider-Man,” which debuted on a Friday, “Spider-Man 2” opens on Wednesday, which could undermine its prospects for a record weekend since many fans will have seen it the first two days. The first Sunday for “Spider-Man 2” lands on the Fourth of July, a slower movie night because many people will be watching fireworks.
“Shrek 2” also opened on Wednesday and set a record for best five-day opening at $129 million, beating “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” which did $124.1 million last December. On its first Saturday, “Shrek 2” also scored the best single-day gross ever with $44.8 million, $1.2 million ahead of the previous record held by “Spider-Man.”
Sony originally scheduled “Spider-Man 2” to open the Friday before July 4 then moved it up two days to get a jump on the holiday weekend. With many people off from work Monday, the studio has positioned the film for a colossal first week.
“It looks to me like Sony is trying to maximize its return over six days,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. “I think it’s all about that first week, not about breaking records.”
“Spider-Man 2” could rake in $150 million between Wednesday and Monday, which would surpass the record $146.9 million that “The Matrix Reloaded” grossed in its first six days, Dergarabedian said.
Considering the enthusiastic early reviews, “Spider-Man 2” could end up sweeping away all the debut records. The film opens in more than 4,100 theaters, about the same as “Shrek 2” and well above the 3,615 cinemas for the first “Spider-Man.”
“On box office, I’m just too superstitious to speculate. I just know we have a better movie,” said Avi Arad, head of Marvel Studios and a producer on “Spider-Man 2.” “The way the reviews are looking, no one is going to look at this and be saying, `You didn’t live up to the first one.'”
Can ‘Spider-Man 2’ Break Own Records?