Sony/Marvel Studios’ “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has continued to soar up the all-time box office charts with a $73 million opening Saturday, pushing its estimated opening weekend up to $253 million from 4,336 theaters and above the $247 million launch of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
That means that Spidey has webbed up the record for the biggest December opening in box office history and now sits third on the all-time opening list. If the film continues to beat industry estimates on Sunday, it will pass the $257 million opening of “Avengers: Infinity War” for the No. 2 spot.
In a year when no film had earned an opening weekend above $100 million and the financial performance of big releases was judged on a pandemic curve, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has turned in another historic performance, as it is now responsible for five of the eight $200 million-plus opening weekends in industry history.
Overseas, the box office is just as spectacular, with a global opening of $587 million with $334 million coming from international markets, sitting behind “Avengers: Endgame” and “Avengers: Infinity War” for the third biggest global launch ever. Not only is it more than doubling the global opening of 2021 blockbusters like “No Time to Die” and ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” but it’s also 72% ahead of the 2019 film “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”
The 18-35 demographic, which has had a much larger share of audience turnout than in pre-pandemic times, has filled up theaters nationwide and left fans cheering wildly at the arrival of various characters from past “Spider-Man” films. According to studio sources, 62% of the audience for “No Way Home” came from 18-35 moviegoers.
And with excellent reception across the board, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is on its way to legging out very well through the holiday season from both casual audiences and hardcore fans coming back for repeat screenings. Rotten Tomatoes scores are 94% critics and 99% audience, going with an A+ on CinemaScore and a 91% recommend rating on Postrak.
“This weekend’s historic ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ results, from all over the world and in the face of many challenges, reaffirm the unmatched cultural impact that exclusive theatrical films can have when they are made and marketed with vision and resolve,” Sony Chairman/CEO Tom Rothman said in a statement. “All of us at Sony Pictures, are deeply grateful to the fabulous talent, both in front of and behind the camera, that produced such a landmark film.”
The one thing that could take out Spider-Man’s legs? The Omicron variant. This weekend, COVID-19 infections have seen a significant surge across almost all of the U.S., most notably in New York, where the daily new case rate reached an all-time high, causing the cancelation of Broadway performances and “Saturday Night Live” to air its final episode of the year with a limited cast and crew and no studio audience.
There’s always the chance that if this surge continues, it could put a dent in moviegoing confidence and damage holdover numbers for “No Way Home,” as well as the openings of films like “The Matrix Resurrections” and “Sing 2” that are coming out for Christmas weekend. But so far, COVID has done nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of Spidey fans who grew up seeing the webslinger on the big screen.
COVID has, however, wrecked the hopes of films aimed at older demographics. With audiences over 45 largely staying home and “No Way Home” accounting for over 90% of all domestic revenue this weekend, films like 20th Century’s “West Side Story” and Searchlight’s “Nightmare Alley” barely left a mark on the charts.
“West Side Story” has dropped 68% from its poor $10.5 million opening to a $3.4 million second weekend, giving the $100 million musical a domestic total of just $18 million. With COVID cases expected to trend upward over the holiday period, there’s no sign that Steven Spielberg’s passion project will be able to leg out in theaters in any meaningful way.
“Nightmare Alley,” meanwhile, opened to $3 million from 2,145 theaters for a per-theater average of around $1,400. By comparison, Guillermo del Toro’s previous film, “The Shape of Water,” earned $3 million on Christmas weekend in 2017 from just 726 locations, legging out to a $63 million domestic total. This bleak noir followup with a $60 million budget likely won’t match that performance, as audiences gave it a B on CinemaScore compared to an A for “Shape of Water”
Holdovers fill out the Top 5 as Disney’s “Encanto” takes a very, very distant second to “Spider-Man: No Way Home” with $6.5 million in its fourth weekend and an $81.5 million domestic total as it is set for a release on Disney+ this coming Friday. Sony’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is tied with “West Side Story” for third with $3.4 million, giving it a total of $117 million after five weekends.