"Spider-Man 2" pulled in a record $180.1 million in its first six days and obliterated other box-office highs over the long Fourth of July weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. The previous best six-day opening had been $146.7 million for "The Matrix Reloaded" last year.
"I think our hope was to go into the heart of the summer and grab the biggest six days possible. That's pretty much what happened," said Jeff Blake, vice chairman for "Spider-Man 2" distributor Sony.
Last weekend's top film, Michael Moore's (search) "Fahrenheit 9/11," fell to second place with $21 million over the four-day weekend, raising its total to $60.1 million. The film, Moore's assault on President Bush's actions regarding the Sept. 11 attacks, could become the first documentary ever to top $100 million.
Hollywood had a record Fourth of July weekend, with the top 12 movies taking in $158.5 million from Friday to Sunday, beating 2002's previous high of $139 million.
"Spider-Man 2" took in $115.8 million from Friday to Monday, far ahead of the previous best four-day holiday gross of $95.6 million set by "Shrek 2" over Memorial Day weekend this year.
With $152.6 million in its first five days, "Spider-Man 2" also shattered the $129 million record of "Shrek 2" for biggest Wednesday-Sunday debut.
"Shrek 2" did strike back, though. Its $7.9 million weekend gross lifted its domestic total to $410.2 million, pushing "Shrek 2" above the original "Spider-Man" ($403.7 million) for the No. 5 spot all-time.
Director Sam Raimi (search), star Tobey Maguire (search) and other key cast members returned for "Spider-Man 2," which continues the saga of Marvel Comics (search) superhero Peter, now a broke college kid juggling two jobs, a hectic class schedule and nighttime crime-fighting.
The movie received rave reviews, with many critics saying the sequel outdid the original. Lavish visual effects and explosive action sequences, blended with Peter's human struggle between sacrifice and self-indulgence, made for an irresistible combination, said Avi Arad, head of Marvel Studios and a producer on "Spider-Man 2."
"I really believe there is a Peter Parker in all of us. We all live in this crazy world, and Peter stands for something good and likable and heroic," Arad said. "It's the ultimate wish fulfillment to get to soar into the sky and do good things. I believe people want to do that. But in his heart, Peter Parker is just a human being."
From Friday to Sunday, "Spider-Man 2" took in $88.3 million, missing out on the best three-day weekend record of $114.8 million held by the first "Spider-Man."
The first movie opened on Friday, so its initial business all came on the weekend, while the sequel already had rung up about $64 million in ticket sales Wednesday and Thursday. "Spider-Man 2" also had a comparatively quiet Sunday on the Fourth of July, when many people focused on outdoor activities such as parades, picnics and fireworks.
"Spider-Man 2" originally was scheduled to open the Friday before the Fourth of July, but the studio moved it up two days to get a jump on the holiday weekend.
"If they didn't have a good movie, I think they would have waited," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "But they were confident enough to put it out on Wednesday and let the buzz build, and it really paid off."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Monday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Tuesday.
1. "Spider-Man 2," $115.8 million.
2. "Fahrenheit 9/11," $21 million.
3. "White Chicks," $12 million.
4. "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story," $10.45 million.
5. "The Notebook," $10.3 million.
6. "The Terminal," $10.2 million.
7. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," $8.1 million.
8. "Shrek 2," $7.9 million.
9 (tie). "Garfield: The Movie," $3.6 million.
9 (tie). "Two Brothers," $3.6 million.