By the Numbers: May 10

Being Unfaithful comes easily to Adrian Lyne.

The director who made adultery a dangerous prospect with Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal returns with yet another cautionary tale of an affair gone awry.

Lyne, who spent the latter half of the 1990s toiling on his controversial and ultimately disregarded Lolita remake, now reworks the 1969 French thriller La Femme Infidele for American consumption. Diane Lane is the married woman who finds herself torn between husband Richard Gere and young stud Oliver Martinez. Things turn nasty pretty quickly….

Lyne knows how to sell steamy sex. He proved that with the glossy Fatal Attraction ($156.6 million) and the shallow Indecent Proposal ($106.6 million). American audiences initially rejected 9 ½ Weeks, but the monotonous S&M antics of Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger seduced video renters following a sizzling European response.

Unfaithful won’t bloody the amazing Spider-Man, but could it enjoy a strong opening by virtue that it’s the only new film in wide release that appeals to an older crowd, in particular women.

(Strong, that is, by Gere‘s standards.)

Gere continues to endure unimpressive grosses unless paired with Julia Roberts. In Unfaithful, he’s working with his Cotton Club co-star Lane, a reunion hardly on the scale of Runaway Bride. Lane certainly can’t draw like Roberts.

Unfaithful should do no better or worse than Gere‘s most recent efforts, 2000’s Autumn in New York ($10.9 million opening, $37.7 million total) and January’s The Mothman Prophecies ($11.2 million opening, $35.2 million total). But Unfaithful will be a mere afterthought following the May 24 releases of Al Pacino‘s Insomnia and Jennifer Lopez‘s Enough, which, incidentally, Sony plans to sneak this Saturday.

If a heartthrob such as Gere is no match for Spider-Man, what hope is there for the drippy DJ QuallsThe New Guy?

Not much, as demonstrated last weekend by the equally nebbish Woody Allen‘s Hollywood Ending. There’s only one wallflower on everyone’s minds, and his name is Peter Parker.

It doesn’t help that The New Guy was originally scheduled for May 4-2001, that is. The teen-oriented comedy continually got bumped, from September to November to February.

Similar delays proved disastrous for such similar, uninspired farces as National Lampoon’s Van Wilder ($20.6 through Sunday) and Slackers ($4.8 million).

Plus, no one seems too bothered these days with the misadventures of horny, underachieving students. Qualls is a high school geek who undergoes an image makeover following a stint in prison. Eddie Griffin, who will doubtless enjoy greater success later this month with Undercover Brother, serves as Qualls‘ mentor.

Qualls‘ particularly humorous deflowering in Road Trip ($68.5 million) won’t help The New Guy open with much more than Van Wilder‘s disappointing $7 million. Then watch The New Guy drop off the face of the planet long before school closes for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Peter Parker might not be voted Most Popular by his high school classmates, but Spider-Man is down with the cool kids.

And just about everyone else (except the Green Goblin and J. Jonah Jameson, of course).

Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man shattered records for best opening weekend ($114.8 million), beating the $90.2 million earned in November by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; the biggest opening day ($39.4 million); and the two top single-day grosses (Friday’s $39.4 million and Saturday’s $43.6 million hauls).

Spider-Man also took just three days to make more than $100 million, a feat that required five days for both Harry Potter and Star Wars: Episode I–The Phantom Menace.

Aside from being Marvel Comics’ most familiar superhero, Spider-Man‘s running time clearly proved a major factor in its record-breaking opening. Spider-Man clocks in at a mere 121 minutes vs. Harry Potter‘s lengthy 152 minutes, allowing more shows at its 3,615 theaters, representing 7,500-plus screens.

Spider-Man‘s hot streak continued into the weekend as the web-slinger snared $11 million on Monday, $9.9 million on Tuesday, $8.3 million on Wednesday and $7.4 million on Thursday , for a total $151.6 million. In just seven days, Spider-Man now ranks 93rd on the list of U.S. highest-grossing films.

Spider-Man also has made almost as much as the most popular film based on another Marvel property, X-Men ($157.2 million).

Even if it falls 50 or 60 percent in its second weekend, earning between $50 and $60 million, Spider-Man will likely pass the $200 million in 10 days. Star Wars: Episode I–The Phantom Menace took 13 days to cross that barrier with $207 million. Spider-Man also will become the top new release of 2002, surging past Ice Age‘s $169 million tally through Sunday.

No wonder Sony announced this week that Spider-Man 2 will swing our way May 4, 2003.

What’s next for the wimp-turned-masked crime fighter?

Spider-Man will surely endure a significant slowdown in traffic when Star Wars: Episode I–Attack of the Clones debuts May 16, but it will remain the destination of choice for spillover business for several weeks. A $300-plus million total looks guaranteed, making Spider-Man the most popular film based on a comic book, a record held since 1989 by Batman ($251.1 million).

Spider-Man also could end up being the highest-grossing film domestically since Star Wars: Episode I–The Phantom Menace made a stellar $431.1 million, beating Harry Potter ($317.4 million) and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring ($309.1 million). Unless, of course, Star Wars: Episode I–Attack of the Clones pulls in more cash in less time.

Spider-Man‘s record-breaking opening should hold up against Star Wars: Episode I–Attack of the Clones. The fifth Star Wars opens on a Thursday, so it might make as much as Spider-Man‘s $114.8 million over the course of four days instead of three days.

With Spider-Man casting such a wide net, fellow new releases Hollywood Ending and Deuces Wild went down for the count almost immediately.

Woody Allen‘s Hollywood Ending, an amusing satire about the movie industry co-starring Tea Leoni, debuted with a mediocre $2 million at 765 theaters. That’s weaker than Allen‘s previous DreamWorks limited releases Small Time Crooks ($3.8 million at 865 theaters) and The Curse of the Jade Scorpion ($2.4 million at 903 theaters).

Unless adults apathetic toward Unfaithful quickly discover Hollywood Ending, Allen looks set to make very little money–as usual. With $2.3 million through Tuesday, Hollywood Ending won’t enjoy a total much more than The Curse of the Jade Scorpion‘s $7.4 million.

After sitting on the shelf since early 2001, Deuces Wild opened without making much of a rumble. The 1950s-era gang warfare saga earned a lousy $2.7 million at 1,480 theaters, signaling this is not an Outsiders for the 21st century.

With a cast that includes Stephen Dorff and Matt Dillon, Deuces Wild has $3.6 million through Thursday.

Age finally took its toll on otherwise prosperous holdovers Panic Room ($91.5 million through Thursday), The Rookie ($65.6 million through Thursday) and Changing Lanes ($53.4 million through Thursday).

Three disappointing films starring some of Hollywood’s top leading ladies continued their quick descents. Sandra Bullock‘s thriller Murder by Numbers has $25 million through Thursday. Angelina Jolie‘s Life or Something Like It flatlined with just $11.7 million through Thursday. That bitter taste in Cameron Diaz‘s mouth is the $23.2 million earned by The Sweetest Thing.

Jason X, the 10th in the seemingly unstoppable Friday the 13th series, died in its second weekend. It dropped 65 percent from $6.6 million to $2.3 million, and has a mere $10.7 million through Thursday. Expect Jason Voorhees’ next massacre–if there is one–to terrorize video stores.

The Rock couldn’t snap Spider-Man like a twig, but The Scorpion King managed a lively $9 million in its third weekend despite another 50 percent drop in attendance. The Mummy spin-off has $76 million through Thursday, with $100 million a likely feat.

Audiences clearly like what The Rock‘s cookin’.