‘Spider-Man’ $260 Million Debut Smashes Pandemic-Era Record
(Bloomberg) -- Spider-Man fans jammed theaters across North America, shattering the opening-weekend record for a movie released during the pandemic, even as Covid cases surged in many places.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” generated $260.1 million in U.S. and Canada ticket sales in its debut, Comscore Inc. said Monday in a statement. The film, made by Sony Group with Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel division, had the second-highest domestic opening weekend of all time, beating Boxoffice Pro’s forecast of $224 million, as well as Sony’s own projections.
“Avengers: Endgame,” a Marvel film released in 2019, had the biggest opening weekend in movie history, with sales of $357.1 million.
International theaters brought in an additional $340.8 million, Sony said. Among individual markets, it was the highest opening ever in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.
Cinemas have longed for a blockbuster capable of reaching a massive audience -- and “No Way Home” delivered. The biggest North American debut of pandemic times had been the $90 million opening achieved almost three months ago by Sony’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” By comparison, six films topped $100 million in their first weekends in 2019.
The sales were enough to instantly make “No Way Home” the top-grossing film released domestically this year. Sony relied on a core demographic of 18-to-34-year-old fans who made up 62% of ticket buyers. Unlike many other movies released during the pandemic, “No Way Home” was only available in theaters.
The results “reaffirm the unmatched cultural impact that exclusive theatrical films can have,” Sony’s Motion Picture Group Chairman Tom Rothman said in a statement.
Theater chains hope the success portends a strong 2022, when a number of films delayed by the pandemic are scheduled for release, including new installments of “Top Gun” and “Jurassic World.”
But the weekend’s results may prove to be a one-off success. The other major film opening, “Nightmare Alley” from Disney’s Searchlight division, took in just $3 million in its domestic debut.
The theater industry’s recovery has been uneven -- and operators face a new threat in the omicron variant. The disappointing debut this month of the well-reviewed “West Side Story” remake from Steven Spielberg again underscored that older audiences aren’t rushing back to cinemas.
AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., the biggest theater chain, rose 2% to close at $29.70 in New York. Cinemark Holdings Inc. was up 2.5% to $16.61, while Sony closed 3% lower in Tokyo.
“No Way Home” continues a strong run for the Spider-Man franchise. Tobey Maguire’s debut as the character in 2002 was the first movie to exceed $100 million in its Friday-to-Sunday opening weekend, according to Comscore.
The new film is the third in the latest round of pictures starring Tom Holland as the title character and directed by Jon Watts. It benefited from a great deal of social media buzz, including a trailer viewed 356 million times in its first day, as well as reports the film may, or may not, be Holland’s last appearance.
The presence of another Marvel character, Doctor Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, also likely sparked excitement from fans. In the film, he casts a spell to help Spider-Man after his secret identity is revealed, but the magic backfires, unleashing new villains. Zendaya co-stars as MJ, joined by Alfred Molina, who plays the creepy Doctor Octopus, Jon Favreau and Marisa Tomei.
Some 90% of critics recommended the picture, according to the website Rotten Tomatoes.
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