200705031049Opening internationally, in advance of its US premiere tomorrow, SPIDEY 3 has already broken records on two continents:

“Spider-Man 3” cast a worldwide web with a blockbuster first day, hauling in $29.15 million in 16 overseas markets and beating the debuts of the previous two “Spider-Man” flicks in each locale.

The film had the best opening day ever Tuesday in some countries, including France, Italy, South Korea and Hong Kong, distributor Sony Pictures said.

[snip]” ‘Spider-Man’ is a worldwide franchise, and the thing we’re most excited about is that in two pretty completely separate parts of the world we’ve gotten off to a great start,” Jeff Blake, Sony vice chairman, said Wednesday. “We certainly hope for the same in North America.”

The first two Spider-man movies shattered box office records in the US. The new one is getting mixed reviews, but don’t be surprised is it sells a few tickets.

SPIDER-MAN’s huge economic impact hits on many fronts. For instance, Activision, which puts out the Spider-man video games, just announced record profits, and here’s how:

Activision’s Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 movie-based games raked in about $300 million combined for the publisher, according to research firm NPD Group. 2002’s Spider-Man was one of the top-five selling games in the US and 2004’s Spider-Man 2 was the top movie-based game of the year. Meanwhile, the company has become the forerunner in licensed comic book-based videogames, among other talents. Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter recently told Reuters that he expects the Spider-Man 3 videogame to sell around 6 million units worldwide in Activision’s current fiscal year.

MEANWHILE, Marvel’s stock continues to rise, although as this CNN story shows, it’ll like take a dip after the movie opens…and after that, Marvel’s rick become a whole lot bigger as it begins to produce its own movies:

After the stock’s big gain, shares now trade for a lofty 44 times trailing earnings. That’s twice their historical average. Meanwhile, 22 percent of Marvel’s shares are being sold short – triple the market’s average. That means a large number of investors are betting the stock will fall.

Put the pieces together and the following picture emerges: “The Spider-Man trade is on,” says David Bank, an analyst at RBC Dominion Securities.

So should you buy after the likely sell off? Be careful. Marvel has just radically changed the business model in which it licenses the rights of its characters to film studios such as Sony Corp. (Charts) Now the New York firm will produce many of its own flicks in-house, including Iron Man as its first film, in 2008. “This certainly increases the risk,” says Harold Vogel, a veteran film-industry analyst who heads Vogel Capital Management. “Producing movies is a different game.”