There will be no need for a COVID curve to judge Sony/Marvel Studios’ “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” The numbers for Tom Holland’s latest go-around as Peter Parker are simply spectacular with $121.5 million grossed on opening day from 4,336 locations and an estimated domestic opening of $242 million.
At a time when COVID-19 has plagued the box office and left only a precious few blockbusters yielding theatrical profit on the level seen before 2020, Sony and the “Spider-Man” franchise will have both scored their first ever $200 million-plus opener, not to mention only the eighth in box office history and likely among the Top 5 of all time. The opening day figure, which includes $50 million from Thursday previews, is second only to “Avengers: Endgame” among the all-time opening day totals.
If this current number holds, “No Way Home” will be No. 4 on the all-time domestic opening list. And if it is able to beat industry projections of a 45% Friday-to-Saturday drop, it could pass the $247 million launch of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to become the highest December opening ever. The other two films on the top of the all-time list are “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” with $257 million and $357 million respectively.
This result will mean that, in one weekend, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” will have eclipsed the entire domestic run of every film that has come out since the start of 2020, including the $227 million domestic total of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” from this past September. The opening day total alone beats out every opening weekend from the past two years as well, including the previous 2021 best of $90 million for “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.”
Combined with an overseas start that has passed $100 million in two days, this start will put the film well on its way to becoming the first of the pandemic era to gross over $1 billion worldwide, even though it still does not have a release date in China. The reception for “Spider-Man” has been among the best ever for a modern blockbuster, including Rotten Tomatoes scores of 94% critics and 99% audience, an A+ on CinemaScore and a whopping 91% recommend rating on Postrak.
The coming weeks will see how well this sterling word-of-mouth will allow “Spider-Man: No Way Home” to leg out during the Christmas/New Year’s period against the Omicron variant-fueled surge in COVID-19 cases that could keep a good chunk of potential moviegoers home.
But amidst all the good news and record-setting revenue for both Sony and theater chains, there’s a more sobering trend that is continuing this weekend: mature films are still performing poorly. 20th Century’s “West Side Story” is continuing to crash in theaters with just $3.5 million grossed in its second weekend for a 67% drop from its weak $10.5 million opening, sliding to No. 4 on the box office charts.
Meanwhile, Searchlight released Guillermo del Toro’s remake of the noir film “Nightmare Alley” in 2,145 theaters and has grossed an opening day total of $1.19 million. Industry estimates have the film earning a No. 5 opening of just $2.8 million and a per theater average of around $1,300. Reception for the bleak drama has been good but not excellent with a B on CinemaScore and a 72% audience score on Rotten Tomates to go with 80% critics. For comparison, “West Side Story” and “Nightmare Alley” are both yielding totals below the fifth weekend of “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” which added an estimated $3.9 million and now has a $117 million total.
While the 18-35 crowd is reported to have made up three-fourths of the mammoth turnout for “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” older audiences have abandoned del Toro and Steven Spielberg’s latest offerings out of concern of contracting COVID; though the ongoing struggle of adult dramas has led to growing fears at studios that this is part of a larger trend where audiences interested in these films are simply choosing to see them at home on streaming rather than buy a theater ticket.