Look out! Here comes the Spider-Man!
The friendly neighborhood web-slinger may ignore wealth and fame, but that won't stop this $120 million adaptation of the vintage comic book from trying to shatter box office records.
The first of the summer's anticipated blockbusters, director Sam Raimi's spin on Spider-Man will attempt to do what X-Men and Men in Black fail to do before it: unseat Batman as the top-grossing film based on a comic book.
An early May release resulted in enduring runs for 1999's The Mummy ($155.3 million), 2000's Gladiator ($187 million) and The Mummy Returns ($202 million). Spider-Man faces no serious competition until the May 16 release of Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, which also is the only other potential blockbuster to hit theaters until mid-June.
Just like Superman, Spider-Man's enduring popularity extends beyond the pages of comic books. That should help Spider-Man debut somewhere between The Mummy Returns ($68.1 million) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park ($72.1 million) openings. Also, Spider-Man should trump the grosses of such fellow but lesser-known Marvel Comics superheroes X-Men ($54.4 million opening, $157.2 million total) and Blade 2 ($32.5 million opening, $79.4 million total through Sunday).
If Spider-Man indeed opens strong, it will attract significant Attack of the Clones spillover business, just as The Mummy did against Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace in 1999. This would help Spider-Man make a serious run at surpassing Batman's $251.1 million total.
Whereas Tim Burton's Batman was dark and brooding, Raimi's Spider-Man is bright but certainly not as garish or campy as the last two Batman sequels. It's also lovingly faithful to the comic book--even down to the way it sets up a sequel--but accessible enough to attract those who have no intention of ever reading a comic book or a graphic novel.
Tobey Maguire is perfectly nerdy as Peter Parker, the high school wallflower transformed into a man of action after being bitten by a radioactive spider. He faces an appropriately menacing Willem Dafoe, as Spidey's archenemy the Green Goblin, and pines for the spunky Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst).
The success--or even inconceivable failure--of Spider-Man could have tremendous ramifications on the various big-budget adaptations of other Marvel-related films in the works. Daredevil, with Ben Affleck as the man without fear, is scheduled for Jan. 17. X-Men 2 will occupy the early May 2003 slot. The Hulk, directed by Ang Lee, will begin his rampage in June 2003. Plans also are in the works for third Blade, a second attempt at The Punisher and The Sub-Mariner. Spider-Man could also be the impetus for such long-gestating projects as The Fantastic Four, The Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider and the next installments of such D.C. Comics staples as Superman and Batman.
With Spider-Man's arrival, The Rock might find himself subdued in much the same manner as the unfortunate wrestler whom Peter Parker throws around for a cash prize.
The WWF superstar's first vehicle, The Scorpion King, took a nasty 50 percent tumble in its second weekend, down from $36 million to $18 million. The Rock should serve as the No. 1 destination for those unable to pack into Spider-Man, but another 50 percent tumble this weekend looks likely.
Still, with a regal $64.3 million through Wednesday, The Scorpion King looks set to cross the $100 million barrier and cement The Rock's status as the next action hero.
Who dares take on the spectacular Spider-Man?
Another bespectacled drip, of course.
Woody Allen's annual ensemble offering, Hollywood Ending, stars the New York auteur as a director who must wrap his latest film after temporarily losing his sight. Tea Leoni, Debra Messing and Treat Williams co-star.
Hollywood Ending follows the same release pattern as Allen's previous DreamWorks releases Small Time Crooks and The Curse of the Jade Scorpion by debuting at between 700 and 900 theaters. Hollywood Ending should duplicate the same $3.8 million opening as Small Time Crooks and fare better than the poorly reviewed The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, which endured a puny $2.4 million opening and made only $7.4 million. If Hollywood Ending experiences a successful expansion on May 10, then it could equal Small Time Crooks' $17 million total.
Hollywood Ending should fare better than Deuces Wild, which was delayed last year by MGM subsidy United Artists following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It also was scheduled to open last week, when it would have stood some chance against Life or Something Like It and Jason X, but now it has been pushed back to challenge Spider-Man.
The 1950s gang warfare hits 1,300 theaters with no fanfare and little in the way of genuine star power. Stephen Dorff has never headlined a hit, and such recent efforts as Space Truckers and Entropy went straight to video.
Matt Dillon pops up, no doubt in a nod to his appearance in the similarly themed The Outsiders and Rumble Fish. The cast also includes such up-and-coming notables as Brad Renfro, Norman Reedus, Frankie Muniz and James Franco, who incidentally stars as Peter Parker's rich roommate in Spider-Man. With Deuces Wild likely to make about $3 million this weekend, care to wonder which films will get Franco more work?
Comedy sure isn't pretty for Angelina Jolie.
The platinum-coiffed Jolie didn't generate very many laughs as a TV news reporter who believes she has only one week to live. Life or Something Like It opened with a pathetic $6.2 million. This marks the second comedy headlined by Hollywood's new leading ladies that has bombed in less than one month, the other being Cameron Diaz's equally disastrous The Sweetest Thing ($9.4 million opening, $22 million total through Wednesday).
Life or Something Like It also represents Jolie's second consecutive flop after Lara Croft: Tomb Raider scored $131.1 million. Original Sin, the silly, steamy thriller co-starring Antonio Banderas, opened with $6.4 million but was giggled out of theaters with a pathetic $16.5 million. Life or Something Like It, which has $7.4 million through Wednesday, will barely do better. Seems Jolie should resume raiding tombs pronto.
Not even a technological upgrade could stir up much interest in that one-man killing machine Jason Voorhees.
Jason X, the 10th in the seemingly unstoppable Friday the 13th series, sliced up a meager $6.6 million in its debut. That's less than the $7.5 million that Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday opened with in 1993.
With $7.6 million through Wednesday, Jason X looks like it will do no better than Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday's $15.5 million total. Relocating Jason from present-day Camp Crystal Lake to a spaceship some 450 years in the future clearly did not tantalize those who grew bored with his killing spree during the late 1980s.
Jason X's failure not only heralds the possible demise of the series--at least theatrically--but could signal possible disinterest in another revived 1980s slasher saga, this summer's Halloween: Homecoming.
Changing Lanes proved its durability this weekend by dropping only 18.6 percent in its third weekend, from $11 million to $9 million. Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson could play their intense game of cat and mouse for a strong fourth week before facing competition in the upcoming Unfaithful.
Changing Lanes, which has $46.2 million through Wednesday, could find itself coming to a halt somewhere past Jackson's Rules of Engagement ($61.3 million).
After a lackluster $9.3 million debut, Sandra Bullock's Murder by Numbers eased by a respectable 31.6 percent in its second week to $6.3 million. Still, its weak $19.8 million total through Wednesday indicates that the chiller, with Bullock as a cop out to bust two murderous teens, isn't striking much of a chord among fans of her goofy romantic comedies.
Interest also is waning in two other women-in-distress thrillers.
Jodie Foster's Panic Room slid 29.8 percent in its fifth weekend, from $6 million to $4.2 million. With $88.6 million through Wednesday, Panic Room should still manage to cross $100 million to become Foster's biggest hit since 1991's The Silence of the Lambs ($130.7 million).
Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman might have looked harder at scripts before settling on the unintelligible High Crimes as their first film together since 1996's Kiss the Girls. The thriller dropped an OK 21 percent in its fourth weekend, from $3.9 million to $3.1 million, and has $35.7 million through Wednesday. Kiss the Girls ended its run with $60.5 million and paved the way for the successful Judd-less prequel Along Came a Spider ($74 million).
Aging standbys Ice Age and The Rookie continue to entertain families.
Ice Age, which has $166.4 million through Wednesday, will likely stick around in the Top 10 until fellow animated adventure Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron gallops into theaters on May 24.
The pitch count grows higher and higher for The Rookie, but there's no need to call up the bullpen. Dennis Quaid's biography of Tampa Bay Devil Rays pitcher Jim Morris has $61.5 million through Wednesday.
Bill Paxton's Frailty, bedeviled by an ill-conceived wide release, fell out of the Top 10 with just $10.1 million through Sunday. Going the art house route continues to benefit Monsoon Wedding ($8.1 million through Sunday), Y Tu Mama Tambien ($7.2 million through Sunday), Kissing Jessica Stein ($5.6 million through Sunday) and My Big Fat Greek Wedding ($1.6 million through Sunday).
The jury remains out on The Cat's Meow, a lively 1920s drama based on Hollywood folklore that marks a stunning return to form for director Peter Bogdanovich. The ensemble cast includes Kirsten Dunst, Eddie Izzard and Cary Elwes.
The Cat's Meow has a modest $786,921 through Sunday after expanding in its third weekend to 135 theaters.
Dunst's presence in Spider-Man could lure some of her fans to the murder mystery as enjoyable as Gosford Park.