Spider-Man 3 Wins, But Falters

As expected “Spider-Man 3” took the box-office again this past weekend, estimates are a $60 million gross for the three-day period domestically.

The film is an absolute unqualified hit financially, that much is certain. In its first two weeks “Spider-Man 3” has made double its huge $300 million budget and then some, meaning most of what it earns from now on is pretty much pure profit for Sony Pictures.

Yet one figure points to a more disturbing trend – a 60% drop-off in its first weekend. Opening weekend results are all about marketing and buzz, however second and later weekend results for films are far more impacted by reviews and word of mouth. Second weekend fall-offs of under 40% are good. Drops of over 50% are generally bad (65% or over, kiss your ass goodbye).

60% is not a disaster by any means, but a concern nonetheless as it marks a serious drop compared with the first two films (38% and 49% respectively). In comparison, last year’s “M:I:III” opened in that slot and fell 47.6%, whilst s “Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest” – a film with an almost equal opening to Spidey 3 and similarly mixed reviews – fell 54%.

What does this mean? In the long run it likely means that “Spider-Man 3” is unlikely to sit just above the $400 million domestic mark that its two predecessors did. On the other, the film will likely make-up and even pass that margin thanks to a much bigger than expected international haul.

Comic book movies notoriously never fare as well internationally as they do domestically – most make their money in a split of about 65% USA vs. 35% outside the US. The figures are reversed for other kinds of films like historical epics and 007 movies which do decent in the US, but explode overseas.

The Spider-Man films have proven the one exception so far, yet with both previous films the global tally was still about equal or just a touch greater than the domestic (ie. just over $400 million in total). This time around the international total is already $379 million and likely to rocket up to (and possibly past) $500 million when all is said and done.

Several newcomers also opened this past Friday, with sequel “28 Weeks Later” proving the best. In second place it took in a $10 million opening weekend – smack dab equal to the $10 million haul that “28 Days Later” opened with in 2003.

Multi-generational female drama “Georgia Rule” landed a flat $5.9 million in third place (only a quarter of the take that Jane Fonda’s last film “Monster-in-Law” pulled), whilst comedy “Delta Farce” bombed with $3.5 million and Zach Braff’s new flick “The Ex” with $1.4 million didn’t crack the Top Ten.

Most other titles are falling as expected with “Disturbia,” “Fracture” and “Hot Fuzz” holding the best whilst “Lucky You” and “The Condemned” proved the worst. Limited release titles “Blind Dating” and “The Hip Hop Project” failed to garner any interest.