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'Spider-Man 3' Still Rules Worldwide Box Office

Spider-Man kept up his box office heroics for a second weekend, as the worldwide total for the third film in the superhero trilogy hit $622 million, the film's distributor said on Sunday.

In its second weekend of release, "Spider-Man 3" sold an estimated $145.5 million worth of tickets, split between $60 million for North America and $85.5 million internationally, said Columbia Pictures.

The worldwide lead is likely to change next weekend when "Shrek the Third" opens and then again the following weekend when "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" sets sail.

"Spider-Man 3" enjoyed a wide margin in North America over the two new releases that rounded out the top three: the zombie thriller "28 Weeks Later" with a disappointing $10 million, and the latest Lindsay Lohan flop "Georgia Rule" with $5.9 million.

After 10 days, the North American total for "Spider-Man 3" stands at $242.1 million. By contrast, 2004's "Spider-Man 2" had earned $256 million after two weekends, and 2002's "Spider-Man" $223 million. ("Spider-Man 2" got a two-day head start, opening on a Wednesday.)

The latest film suffered a steep 60 percent drop from its first weekend, compared with 49% for "Spider-Man 2" and 38% for "Spider-Man." Columbia said it was comfortable with the slide given the film's record-breaking $151 million first weekend. The previous holder of that record, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," fell 54 percent last year.

The Sony-owned studio said "Spider-Man 3" cost $258 million to produce, with sources estimating that prints and advertising adding about $125 million to the bill. The box office pot is split roughly between the studio and movie theater owners, according to a complex formula.

As with its predecessors, "Spider-Man 3" stars Tobey Maguire as both the titular crimefighter and Kirsten Dunst as his disenchanted girlfriend, Mary Jane. Sam Raimi directs. A fourth film is in the early stage of development.

The $10 million bow for "28 Weeks Later" matched the opening of its 2003 predecessor "28 Days Later," which opened in almost 1,000 fewer theaters. Industry observers had expected the new film to open in the midteen-millions. It was released by Fox Atomic, the nascent genre arm of Fox Searchlight, the art-house unit of News Corp. A studio official did not return a call
seeking comment.

"Georgia Rule" earned Lohan a ton of bad publicity last year when the film's producer, James G. Robinson, wrote the hard-partying actress a letter condemning her "irresponsible and unprofessional" conduct during production. It quickly found its way onto the Internet.

Lohan has failed to capitalize on her 2004 breakthrough "Mean Girls," starring in such poorly received films as "Herbie: Fully Loaded" and "Just My Luck."

In her new film, she plays a troubled teen who is sent to live with her tough grandmother (Jane Fonda) in small town. Felicity Huffman plays Lohan's alcoholic mother.

"Georgia Rule" was released on behalf of Robinson's Morgan Creek Prods. by Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric's NBC Universal. Universal said the audience was primarily older women who were there to see Fonda. A spokesman for Morgan Creek did not return a call.

Also new was the wartime romp "Delta Farce," starring comedian Larry the Cable Guy, which crawled into the No. 5 spot with just $3.5 million. It was released by Lionsgate, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment.

"Shrek the Third" will be released by Viacom's Paramount Pictures on behalf of producer DreamWorks Animation SKG, while the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films are Walt Disney releases.

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