'Attack of the Clones' Conquers the World with $179 Million Opening
George Lucas and 20th Century Fox may not have expected to shatter any records with the latest installment of the most popular franchise in movie history, but that's exactly what they did.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones blasted off with $179.3 million from its unprecedented worldwide launch over the weekend ending May 19, while Spider-Man, About a Boy and others not only survived but thrived under the shadow of the digital epic.

Playing on approximately 6,100 screens at 3,161 theaters across North America, Attack of the Clones pulled in $80,027,814 over the weekend, the third biggest opening ever after Spider-Man's $114,844,116 and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone's $90,294,621.

Unlike those pictures, though, the Clones eased some of its demand with its unusual Thursday bow, delivering a new weekday record of $30,141,417. Add that to the weekend haul and the $115 million prequel rocketed to $110,169,231 in just four days, making it the second fastest movie ever behind Spider-Man to cross the century mark and topping The Phantom Menace's five-day sprint. The tally is even enough to rank as the 191st highest grossing picture of all time.

Breaking the weekend down, Clones eased 19.0% on Friday to $24,404,757, jumped 28.1% to $31,253,618 on Saturday, and then dipped 22.0% to $24,369,439 on Sunday.

Three years ago, The Phantom Menace drew in $18,467,513 on its first Friday and third day of release, playing on around 5,500 screens at 2,970 theaters. It enjoyed a 32.2% bump-up on Saturday to $24,414,123, and then fell just 10.2% on Sunday to $21,929,334. That added up to a $64,810,970 weekend, the second biggest opening ever at the time. It ended its run at $431,088,297, a total that stands as the fourth highest of all time.

If Clones follows a similar trend as Menace, it will certainly meet its goal of being more of a marathon runner than a sprinter, especially with Memorial Day weekend imminent. Menace slowed just 21% on the same frame to $51,399,863, and it added $15,504,435 on the Monday holiday itself for a four-day weekend tally of $66,904,298 that exceeded its opening by 3%.

Clones actually scored higher marks in exit polls of moviegoers than The Phantom Menace did, according to Fox executive vice president and general sales manager Rick Myerson. CinemaScore, which polls opening night audiences, corroborates this as Clones received an overall A- grade and was higher in all categories except males under the age of 21, which it matched. For those thinking that Star Wars only appeals to fan boys, males under the age of 25 rated Clones just 5% better on average than their female counterparts, Myerson said. Overall, 44% of the PG-rated adventure's audiences were families. The remaining 56% skewed male (58%) and over the age of 25 (65%).

On Thursday and Friday, Clones stormed 72 territories around the world, mostly in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, raking in $69.1 million through Sunday. That's the biggest international weekend ever, topping Harry Potter which conjured $62.3 million from 8,524 screens in 37 markets in early December of last year.

As ubiquitous as Clones is, it still has a number of major markets to invade, including Latin America, India, South Korea and Japan, the most receptive of all foreign territories to Hollywood's exports. Fox steered clear of the latter two countries due to their hosting of the Soccer World Cup, which run May 31 through June 30. Clones will hit Korea on July 5 and Japan on July 13.