Spider-Man 3: Widest Opening in Film History

May 1, 2007–Sony is opening “Spider-Man 3” on 4,253 domestic theaters on Friday, the widest opening of all time. North America is the last territory to see Spidey.

The movie launches May 1 in more than a dozen countries, including Japan, France, Germany, Italy and Korea; another eight on May 2; 30 on May 3 (including China, Australia and Russia) and another 30 on May 4 (including the U.K. and India).

The domestic engagements should beat the 4,163 locations where “Shrek II” bowed for DreamWorks two years ago. Sony launched “Spider-Man 2” at 4,152 in 2004.

The only other pictures to debut in more than 4,000 locations are: “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's hest,” “Madagascar,” “Superman Returns,” “Over the Hedge,” “Mission: Impossible 3” and “Shark Tale.” All of those have been released since 2004 as Hollywood aims to achieve massive opening numbers.

After eight premieres worldwide, Sony on Monday night made its final preem Stateside, showing “Spider-Man 3” on 14 screens at the Tribeca Film Festival.

At the preem party in Gotham, Sony chair and CEO Howard Stringer wondered whether the studio might have shot out “Spider-Man” last weekend in North America when overall biz was way down, giving Peter Parker even more of a chance to make his grab. Stringer sees this installment in the series as “more of a date movie” than the first two in the franchise with the potential to draw even wider demographics. “It's not just spills and thrills,” said Stringer.

“Spider-Man” will be the first of a number of hot summer sequels to swing into theaters, and the picture has two weekends with no true competition before Par/DreamWorks releases “Shrek the Third” May 18, and Disney's “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End” the following weekend.