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Spider-Man Climbs To Box Office Heights

Now you know why they call him the Amazing Spider-Man.

With $72 million in its second weekend — a number that would be a tremendous debut weekend for almost any film — "Spider-Man" knocked off "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace" to become the fastest movie ever to hit $200 million.

"Spider-Man" passed that mark on Saturday, its ninth day of release. It took "The Phantom Menace" 13 days to reach $200 million.

The comic-book adaptation starring Tobey Maguire and directed by Sam Raimi has grossed $223.6 million in 10 days, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The movie had the best second weekend ever, beating the $57.5 million that "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" took in over the same period. At $72 million, it was the fourth-highest weekend gross of all time, behind its own record debut of $114.8 million, the $90.3 million opening of "Harry Potter" and the $72.1 million premiere of "The Lost World: Jurassic Park."

"This is one of those second weekends that's almost more impressive than the first, if that's possible," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "This film is relentless in its accrual of money."

After huge openings, films often nosedive by 50 percent or more in their second weekend because so many people already have seen them. "Spider-Man" held up strongly despite its phenomenal premiere, its revenues dipping just 37 percent.

"That's probably the most gravity-defying feat yet of `Spider-Man,' to hold up like that from a number of that size," said Jeff Blake, head of distribution and marketing at Sony, which released the film.

Opening in second place was the Richard Gere-Diane Lane adultery thriller "Unfaithful," directed by Adrian Lyne ("Fatal Attraction," "Indecent Proposal"). "Unfaithful" grossed a healthy $14.2 million in 2,613 theaters, 1,000 fewer than "Spider-Man" played in.

Distributor 20th Century Fox hopes good word of mouth will establish "Unfaithful" as an adult alternative to "Spider-Man" and its own new "Star Wars" movie that opens Thursday.

Older adults "don't rush out to movies like you do for `Spider-Man' or `Star Wars,"' said Rick Myerson, general sales manager for Fox. "What you're hoping for with a film like this is a consistency where you continue to play week after week after week."

The teen comedy "The New Guy," about a nerd who gets a makeover into a super-cool heartthrob at his new school, debuted at No. 3 with $9.5 million.

In just over a week, "Spider-Man" soared past "Ice Age" to become the year's top-grossing film. "Ice Age" has taken in $170.8 million in two months.

With broad demographic appeal and steady repeat business, "Spider-Man" is expected to hold well next weekend, though it comes up against "Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones."

"I'd say we have No. 2 locked up for next weekend," Blake said.

"Star Wars" creator George Lucas already has conceded his film will not break opening-weekend box-office records because it is debuting on about 6,000 theater screens, 1,500 fewer than "Spider-Man."

Lucas sought the highest-quality theaters, with digital sound, for his new "Star Wars" movie, forgoing a shot at a record opening and aiming for longevity.

"I am not a horse. I do not do horse races," Lucas said in an interview last week. "I'm not interested in opening weekends. I'm not interested in setting records. I know that sounds silly, because we've broken so many records and done all that stuff. I'm interested in making movies and telling stories and giving audiences the best possible presentation."

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "Spider-Man," $72 million.

2. "Unfaithful," $14.2 million.

3. "The New Guy," $9.5 million.

4. "The Scorpion King," $4.4 million.

5. "Changing Lanes," $3.5 million.

6. "Murder by Numbers," $2.3 million.

7. "The Rookie," $2.1 million.

8. "Panic Room," $1.5 million.

9. "Ice Age," $1.4 million.

10. "Life or Something Like It," $1.3 million.