TROUBLE CITY

CRITICS VERSUS BOX OFFICE: SPIDER-MAN EDITION

Movie NewsRuss FischerComment

 Once again, it just doesn't matter if anyone but the ticket-buying public thinks a movie blows. Or does it?

Friday estimates are in for Spider-Man 3, and they're in record-breaking territory: $59 million, trouncing the comparatively paltry $55.8 million earned by Dead Man's Chest last year. That looks pretty good on the surface, especially since studios like to trumpet anything that can be conceived as The Best Thing Ever.

And how are the metareview sites stacking the two against each other? Spidey stands with 62%, currently Fresh, with 180 reviews counted. Dead Man's Chest, on the other hand drops down to 54% Rotten, with 204 reviews counted. It's possible that another 20 reviews might hit for Spider-Man 3 and tip the scale a point or two before the weekend is out.

But there's some fun math to do, which makes it look like Spidey is barely squeaking over the finish line in first place for the all-time weekend opening. Dead Man's Chest bowed on 4,133 screens, with a Friday per-screen average of $13,508 according to BoxOfficeMojo. Spidey has a few more screens to its name -- an all time high of 4,252 to be exact, making yesterday's take just barely more impressive at $13,876 per screen.

Our own Andre Dellamorte predicted the final weekend take for the film would be $124 million, which seems a bit low in the light of a $59M Friday. There's little question that Spidey will pull more than that, and might even make more than the $135.6M needed to crack last year's pirate booty. Maybe.

But, given the reviews and overall reaction to the film (I'll admit that I'm not feeling very kind to it -- slightly less so than Jeremy and considerably less so than Nick) who wants to put money on the movie taking the all-time weekend gross ribbon, but coming shy of the per screen average for Dead Man's Chest? With a 20% drop likely for today (at least) that's possible. If it comes across the finish line with a lower per screen average but slightly better review scores, what does that mean in the great Critics V Audience debate?

Not a damn thing.