NEW YORK – Stick a fork in Madonna's new flick, it's done.
The Material Mom's sex-and-sand movie, Swept Away, has tanked so badly at the box office, she may never see a starring role again.
The movie -- playing in 196 mostly empty theaters across North America -- raked in a paltry $375,000 in its first weekend and didn't even make the list of top 10 earners.
It had a worse opening total than Madonna's other notorious stinker Shanghai Surprise, co-starring her first husband, Sean Penn, which took in $2.3 million.
In fact, in the past decade, the only major studio film to do worse was the abysmal 1995 animated clunker Arabian Knight, with the voices of Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Beals. It took in just $320,000.
Yesterday afternoon, suckers who forked over $10 to see the R-rated megabomb at one of five Manhattan theaters could be seen storming out.
"God, it was awful. Unwatchable!" said one woman at the Loew's Cineplex Village 7 in the East Village, which had a mere five patrons attending the first matinee and 22 at the second.
Screen Gems, which released the film through Sony Pictures, was even cutting its losses, crowing that the film cost only $10 million to make.
But even with eventual cable showings and video and DVD releases, it's doubtful the flick can recoup even half its budget.
It's a big blow for the pop queen, whose big hits have included Evita and Desperately Seeking Susan, but whose last flick, The Next Best Thing, also tanked.
Madonna's camp last night insisted the film was killed by mean-spirited critics who wrote venomous reviews.
"It's a public hanging by the critics, an assassination," said Madonna's flack, Liz Rosenberg. "Give the girl a break already! Stop being so mean!
"I can't believe the level of rage being directed against her. It's a sad state that these critics are taking such joy in it."
Bad reviews and superior competition at the box office did in Swept Away, according to Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
"Obviously, the studio wanted to limit its release. They probably thought that there was not a lot of interest," he said.
A remake of Lina Wertmuller's 1974 movie of the same name, Swept Away is Madonna and director-hubby Guy Ritchie's first film collaboration, in which she plays a bitchy socialite stranded on a beach with a rough-and-tumble seaman.
Madonna, who was in London at a Versace show yesterday, wasn't saying anything, nor was Ritchie.
"She has got a huge hit record right now that's making her feel good," said Rosenberg, referring to the pop queen's James Bond theme, Die Another Day.