LOS ANGELES – The Matrix Reloaded (search) has its studio seeing green, and it's not the film's creepy, raining digital code.
The sequel to the 1999 sci-fi hit is on track for a record-breaking weekend after collecting an estimated $42.5 million domestically since it debuted in a handful of theaters Wednesday and expanded to thousands of screens Thursday, Warner Bros. said Friday.
The Matrix Reloaded, rated R for violence and sexuality, is practically guaranteed to top the $58 million opening weekend of Hannibal (search), the previous record-holder for R-rated movies.
"This sets a new benchmark felations Co.
If the Matrix fervor holds, it could also conquer the overall No. 1 weekend debut of $114.8 million for last summer's Spider-Man (search), even if only the Friday-through-Sunday numbers are tallied for Reloaded.
"Obviously it's a little early but everybody is very happy," said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. head of U.S. distribution. "As soon as the coffee kicks in, maybe we'll pour a little champagne on."
Early one-day earnings sometimes dip on later days, however. In 1999, Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace opened on a Wednesday with $28.5 million, but earned only $12.3 million on Thursday, $18.4 million on Friday, $24.4 million on Saturday and, $22 million on Sunday.
The Matrix Reloaded kicked off its run simultaneously in more than 20 countries, and will be playing in more than 100 countries by its third week. Domestically, it's playing at 3,603 locations.
The Matrix Revolutions, the final part of filmmaking brothers Andy and Larry Wachowski's sci-fi trilogy, is due out this November.