Unofficial estimates Sunday put the gross for "Spider-Man 2" in the $150 million to $155 million range since the film opened Wednesday, which would shatter the record for best Wednesday-Sunday opening set in May by "Shrek 2" with $129 million.
"Spider-Man 2" distributor Sony declined to provide weekend estimates Sunday, saying it would wait to report numbers Monday. But other studios generally were tracking "Spider-Man 2" at about $90 million for the three-day weekend, which followed an estimated $64 million take on Wednesday and Thursday.
Official figures Monday could vary considerably, since the timing of the Fourth of July on a Sunday throws off the formulas studios use to calculate weekend grosses. Studios base their numbers on actual Friday and Saturday grosses, with estimates added for Sunday's take.
"People are very distracted on the Fourth. Usually it's barbecues and fireworks, not movies," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
At around $90 million, the movie's estimated Friday-Sunday haul would fall well short of the record $114.8 million opening weekend of "Spider-Man" two years ago. The original "Spider-Man" opened on Friday, though, while the sequel debuted Wednesday, and millions of fans already had seen it before the weekend. "Spider-Man," which opened in early May, also didn't have the handicap of a Sunday holiday.
Besides breaking the five-day debut record, "Spider-Man 2" was poised to shatter the previous high for best first six days, held by "The Matrix Reloaded" at $146.9 million.
If estimates from other studios are right, "Spider-Man 2" passed that mark in just five days. The film will pad its six-day figure Monday, when many people will be off work for the holiday and free to catch movies during the day.
Last Wednesday, "Spider-Man 2" took in $40.5 million, a record single-day debut that beat the previous high of $39.4 million set by "Spider-Man."
Last weekend's top film, Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," held up strongly, taking in an estimated $17 million from Friday to Saturday. Doubling its theater count to 1,725, "Fahrenheit 9/11" pushed its total to $56.1 million and has a good shot at becoming the first documentary to top the $100 million mark.
"I can't predict, but I think we have a terrific chance," said Tom Ortenberg, president of Lions Gate Films, one of the distributors of "Fahrenheit 9/11," Moore's assault on President Bush's actions regarding the Sept. 11 attacks. "Regardless, the picture is an overwhelming success."
No other wide-release films debuted against "Spider-Man 2," but three new movies did well in narrow release.
In 20 theaters, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy's "Before Sunset" grossed $229,000, averaging about $11,500 a cinema. The film reunites Hawke and Delpy with director Richard Linklater in a follow-up to their 1995 sleeper hit "Before Sunrise."
Robert Redford's "The Clearing," in which he plays a kidnapped businessman, opened in 56 theaters and took in $458,836, averaging $8,194.