It’s been a very merry Christmas for Sony as “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has crossed the $1 billion mark at the box office, grossing $81.5 million from domestic theaters this holiday weekend and $121.4 million overseas to bring its total to $1.05 billion.
The Sony/Marvel Studios film is now the first film of the pandemic era to hit the $1 billion mark after just 12 days in theaters, tying “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” as the third fastest film to hit that milestone in just 11 days in theaters. And unlike “Infinity War,” “No Way Home” was able to do this without a release in China, though Spidey will need a Chinese opening date to have a chance to join “Force Awakens” in the $2 billion club.
But “No Way Home” doesn’t need China to become the top grossing film of 2021, passing the Chinese war film “The Battle of Lake Changjin” which has grossed $902 million. This week, “No Way Home” will also beome Sony’s highest grossing film of all time when it passes $1.13 billion total of its 2019 predecessor “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”
“No Way Home” is expected to continue to leg out through this coming week as the period between Christmas Day and New Year’s has historically been a lucrative one for well-received holiday releases; and the rapid surge in COVID infections via the Omicron variant has done little to weigh down the superhero film’s strong theatrical performance so far.
But it’s hard to say the same for most of the other holiday offerings, which are performing on the same level that the box office as a whole has with the pandemic dragging down numbers. Only Universal/Illumination’s “Sing 2” has gained any meaningful traction with an extended 5-day Christmas opening of $41 million domestic and $65 million worldwide.
That result is a small step above the $40.5 million extended Thanksgiving domestic opening of Disney’s “Encanto,” which like “Sing 2” was released only in theaters. Audience demographic breakdowns show that 64% of the animated sequel’s audience came from families.
It’s a glass-half-filled result for studios and theaters as families are still showing up on the same level as they did a month ago, though still far short of pre-pandemic times. Universal is hoping for “Sing 2” to leg out as it has an A+ from CinemaScore polls and a 97% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Meanwhile, the domination of “No Way Home” has meant bad things for Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s “The Matrix Resurrections” and 20th Century’s “The King’s Man,” both of which needed turnout from the male 18-35 crowd that largely bought tickets for “Spider-Man.”
“Matrix Resurrections” was projected for a $40 million 5-day opening prior to its release on Wednesday but has fallen well short of that with just a $22.5 million extended start. International results were slightly better at $47.3 million for a global launch of just under $70 million from 69 markets.
The Lana Wachowski sequel is the final Warner Bros. release to simultaneously on HBO Max, and it is possible that Gen X audiences who saw the original “Matrix” back in 1999 and were intrigued by this follow-up decided to stay home and watch “Resurrections” on streaming amidst the Omicron surge.
Regardless, “Matrix Resurrections” has had a polarized reception with a B- on CinemaScore — the same grade as the series’ maligned trilogy capper “The Matrix Revolutions” — along with a 66% critics and 64% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. With such lukewarm reviews, a more convenient streaming option available and an acclaimed franchise competitor in theaters only, the chances of “Resurrections” legging out are low.
But “The King’s Man” is the biggest bust of the Christmas bunch with a 5-day opening of just $10 million, including $6.4 million for the Friday-Sunday period. Matthew Vaughn’s prequel to his “Kingsmen” films has been repeatedly delayed over the past two years amidst the 20th Century Fox acquisition by Disney and the pandemic and now only has a global opening of just under $17 million.
Depending on Sunday’s numbers, “The King’s Man” could fall out of the top 5 on the weekend charts as Lionsgate/Kingdom Story Company’s “American Underdog” is performing well as a Christmas Day release. Opening on Saturday in 2,813 locations, the faith-based sports biopic starring Zachary Levi is estimated to earn $6.3 million from 2,813 theaters over just two days, just below what “The King’s Man” earned with Friday grosses included.
Lionsgate will look for “American Underdog” to find legs with Christian audiences over the holidays in between the coasts in a similar way to how “I Can Only Imagine,” the faith-based film that led to the creation of Kingdom Story Company by directors Jon and Andrew Erwin, legged out in 2018. “American Underdog” sports a 98% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and an A+ on CinemaScore.
Other Christmas Day releases include Sony’s “A Journal For Jordan,” which hasn’t grabbed much audience attention despite the actor-director combo of Michael B. Jordan and Denzel Washington. The inspirational film has grossed just $2.2 million from 2,500 theaters.
“A Journal For Jordan” was beaten by MGM/United Artists’ “Licorice Pizza,” which has grossed $2.3 million this weekend from just 783 theaters. Paul Thomas Anderson’s film has joined “The French Dispatch” among the few specialty films that has been able to find any sort of substantial turnout from younger moviegoers, with UA reporting that roughly two-thirds of tickets sold this weekend came from the 18-35 crowd. “Licorice Pizza” will continue its nationwide expansion in January.