Shrek 2 previously held the single day record with $44.8 million on its fourth day of release, a Saturday last May, while Spider-Man 2 had the opening day record at $40.4 million, posted on June 30 of last year. Revenge of the Sith soared past them both with a gross beyond the rosiest of industry expectations.
"When I consider it's a Thursday with kids in school, I'd figure it can't do that," distributor 20th Century Fox's head of distribution, Bruce Snyder, told Box Office Mojo. "I did not think we could do $50 million. I was thinking maybe we could catch up to Shrek 2 on Saturday. I'm as surprised as the rest of the world."
For further perspective, the biggest opening weekend of the year thus far had been Hitch's $43.1 million, and Revenge of the Sith blew past that in one day. Sith's gross is surprising, in part, because the previous Star Wars installment, Attack of the Clones, had an opening day on par with The Phantom Menace and ultimately made significantly less. In 2002, Clones grossed $30.1 million on its way to $310.7 million, while Phantom earned $28.5 million en route to $431.1 million.
Despite the immensity of its opening day, Revenge of the Sith is not a lock to break Spider-Man's $114.8 million opening weekend record.
"It's a tough call," Snyder noted. "I don't think that we'll have the 3-day weekend record. I guess if you take Thursday, Friday and Saturday, we'd be bigger. If we opened on Friday, we'd have the weekend record. But after this, you gotta drop. For the 4-day, we'll be the biggest ever."
The current four-day champ is The Matrix Reloaded, which nabbed $134.3 million in May 2003. That picture quickly burnt out and ended its run at $281.6 million.
Snyder noted several reasons for Revenge of the Sith's success. "For one, it was the culmination of the series," he explained. "The buzz on the picture has been extraordinary in stories and on television, and we were quite a bit wider than Attack of the Clones in terms of number of theaters and prints. And I do think we are getting the adults who had seen the original trilogy."
Revenge of the Sith has been seen as the jumpstart to get people back into the moviegoing habit after an uninspiring spring, but it will take more than just one movie. "The answer is if the movies behind it are good," Snyder said. "If there's something that's not interesting behind it, the box office will stall again."
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