LOS ANGELES — Which way do you spin "The Matrix Revolutions"? The third movie in the cyberpunk trilogy earned $24.3 million at the domestic box office in its first day of release, Warner Bros. said Thursday.
That's a great one-day total for any other movie, but it comes in far below what "The Matrix Reloaded" collected in its nationwide debut last spring.
In May, "Reloaded" opened with a few late-night screenings on Wednesday evening and earned about $5 million. Then it expanded to 3,600 theaters on Thursday and earned about $37.5 million, according to Brandon Gray, proprietor of BoxOfficeMojo.com.
At the time, Warner Bros. lumped the Wednesday totals in with the Thursday figures and announced a total debut of $42.5 million for "Reloaded."
Gray said there may have been less anticipation for "Revolutions" simply because of the rapid-fire release timing.
"With the last one ('Reloaded') there was four years of pent-up demand and 'Revolutions' comes out after only six months," he said. "It's not quite the same event as the one that came out after a long drought."
Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. head of U.S. distribution, dismissed the notion that some viewers may be less enthusiastic about the franchise after "Reloaded," which scored poorly with critics and many fans.
"These are staggering numbers," Fellman said. "If you talk to any large theater operator they're totally out of their minds with joy."
"Revolutions" also collected $18.8 million internationally after staging the widest simultaneous release for a single film by opening in an unprecedented 18,000 screens around the world at the same hour (9 a.m. ET), according to Variety. Part of the studio's worldwide effort was to combat piracy.
"Revolutions" also ranked as the third best Wednesday debut for a movie, behind $28.5 million for 1999's "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace" and $26.1 million for last year's "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."
Although hampered by critics who lambasted "Revolutions" as a glorified videogame, the Keanu Reeves sci-fi adventure could still come close to topping $100 million domestically by the end of the weekend.
Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations Co., said he would wait until the weekend to judge how "Revolutions" compares to "Reloaded."
The critically acclaimed first film, "The Matrix," earned $33.7 million in its first weekend in April 1999 and went on to rake in $171.5 million.
"Reloaded" earned a total of $281.6 million and became the year's third highest-grossing movie of the year, behind "Finding Nemo" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," respectively.red pill | from inside the mind of krix at November 07, 2003 08:28 AM .