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Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man
July 7, 2002

Leo. Han Solo. ET. Skywalker. And now... Peter Parker.

Yes, Peter Parker has joined the 400 Club - the $400 million domestic box-office club, that is. Alongside such films as Titanic, Star Wars, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and The Phantom Menace, Sony's Spider-Man has surpassed the $400 million mark for US box office sales - adding yet another notch to its growing list of accomplishments.

While the Marvel superhero swung his way into theaters across America (and the globe) two months ago, the record-breaking film has barely slowed to a crawl. With several major records already under its belt, Spider-Man is becoming more than just the "little spider that could" but a phenomena that is setting the new standard for blockbuster films the world over.

Opening to $39.4 million on its first day, Spider-Man has shattered every opening record with an "amazing" $114.8 million weekend. It became the first ever Hollywood film to surpass the $100 million in its first three days, beating out such mega-blockbusters as The Phantom Menace and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone -- which each took five days. The prior record for best 3-day weekend opening gross was last year's Harry Potter at $90.3 million. As for other superhero films, Marvel's own X-Men comes in second with a 3-day weekend opening of $54.5 million. Warner's Batman films each had a respectable weekend opening between $40-$52 million.

As for the records Spider-Man has ensnared in his web?
  • Fastest to $100 Million: 3 days
  • Fastest to $200 Million: 9 days
  • Fastest to $300 Million: 22 days
  • Fastest to $400 Million: 66 days (tie w/ Titanic)
  • Biggest Week (5/3-9): $151,622,504
  • Biggest Opening Weekend (5/3-5): $114,844,116
  • Biggest Second Weekend (5/10-12): $71,417,527
  • Biggest Third Weekend (5/17-19): $45,036,912
  • Highest Per Theater Average for a Wide Release (5/3-5): $31,769
  • Highest Grossing Opening Day (Fri, 5/3): $39,406,872
  • Highest Grossing Single Day (Sat, 5/4); $43,622,264
  • Highest Grossing Friday (5/3): $39,406,872
  • Highest Grossing Saturday (5/4): $43,622,264
  • Highest Grossing Sunday (5/5): $31,814,980
  • Highest Grossing Monday (non-holiday 5/7): $11,034,785
  • Highest Grossing Sony Release $400,000,000 {...and counting}
  • Highest Grossing Comic Book Adaptation: $400,000,000 {...and counting}
  • Widest Release: 3,876 theaters
When one considers these figures, one must also consider the arduous road Spider-Man (a creation of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko) had to endure. Spider-Man was originally featured as a "fill in" story in the final issue of a comic that was being canceled ("Amazing Fantasy #15"). As Lee recalls, Marvel wasn't interested in Spider-Man for two reasons. One, the character was a teenager and, at the time (early 60's), teens were nothing but sidekicks. Secondly, "spiders" were creepy, crawly critters and the public would never accept such an entity as a "hero." Thankfully, the public embraced the shy teen named Peter Parker and Spider-Man would eventually become one of Marvelís best known creations.

Unfortunately in Hollywood, Spider-Man would have to once again prove himself. The process of bringing the wall-crawler to the big screen would take many years going through a series of production companies, writers, directors, and litigation. At one time, Titanic filmmaker James Cameron was being considered for bringing the humble spider to the big screen. Now that Hollywood has been "bitten" by the comic book bug, future comic characters will have a much smoother transition from pulp to celluloid. In doing so, they should remember to tip their hat to the "spider" and to the "man."

© Terrence J. Brady

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