Spider-Man 2: Melissa Moseley
Gary Susman
July 01, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

It’s a lot easier to grab cash if you have sticky hands, or four extra arms. Maybe that’s why — along with nearly unanimous raves from critics and two years worth of anticipation — ”Spider-Man 2” broke records with its opening-day ticket sales in North American theaters on Wednesday.

According to studio estimates, the battle between Spidey and multi-tentacled Dr. Octopus earned a record $40.5 million when it debuted on Wednesday. Not only does that figure beat the previous record for a Wednesday, the $34.5 million grossed last December on the opening day of ”The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” but it also beats the overall one-day record of $39.4 million, set two years ago by the Friday opening of the original ”Spider-Man.” It also means the movie is poised to beat the 2002 ”Spider-Man”’s opening-weekend benchmark of $114.8 million, still the highest gross of any movie over a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Forget Doc Ock — about the only guy who can slow Spidey down now is ”Fahrenheit 9/11”’s Michael Moore.

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