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411 Box Office Report: Spider-Man: No Way Home Posts Third-Best Opening Ever With $253 Million

December 19, 2021 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Spider-Man: No Way Home, CinemaCon Image Credit: Sony PIctures

Spider-Man: No Way Home brought moviegoers back to theaters in force this weekend, notching the third-best domestic opening weekend of all-time. The highly-anticipated MCU film raked in an amazing $253 million in its opening weekend, smashing past the $200 million expectations heading into the frame. The opening ranks just ahead of Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ $248 million in December of 2015, for the #3 spot, and just behind Avengers: Infinity War’s $257.7 million which means that if Sunday comes in stronger than expected, it could end up with the #2 spot.

It goes without saying that this is the biggest opening of the pandemic era, leaving Venom: Let There Be Carnage’s $90 million from October in the dust. It speaks to the level of hype that the MCU can still bring, as there were concerns that the rise of the Omicron variant might dampen moviegoer enthusiasm. Not so much, as it turns out.

No Way Home had a lot going for it, to be fair. Hype for this film has been high essentially since Spider-Man: Far From Home bowed in July of 2019, which ended with a big surprise appearance and cliffhanger. No Way Home continued to build that hype, both in its marketing and the promise of big surprises. The hype went through the roof in the days leading up to the release, bolstered by stellar reviews (a 94% aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes).

But pre-release hype is only one factor, and the fact that the film delivered for fans really sealed the deal. The film has that rare mark of an A+ CinemaScore, something no live-action Spider-Man film had achieved to this point. That helped the day-to-day holds, which were quite strong for a genre that tends to be very front-loaded. And the film is scoring overseas as well, nailing down $334.2 million in its international bow for a fantastic $587.2 million worldwide start.

Now here’s where the good news really takes off: No Way Home is likely to do very well in terms of box office legs. December releases have notoriously good week-to-week holds thanks to the holidays and the week between Christmas and New Year’s in particular. Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker and Star Wars: The Last Jedi are great examples; despite very polarizing reactions, both films scored multiples near a 3.0 (a 2.9 and 2.83 respectively), compared to Endgame and Infinity War’s 2.4 and 2.63. Now, it must be said that those films also didn’t have to deal with a pandemic and the surge caused by a new variant, but it still seems likely that No Way Home can log at least a 2.75 final multiple which would put it in the $700 million range. Needless to say, this is the box office hit of the year.

Spidey’s box office blitz didn’t hurt Encanto much, as the Disney animated film held onto #2 in its fourth week with $6.5 million. That’s down just 35% from the previous weekend and brings the movie to $81.5 million domestically and $175.5 million worldwide. As it stands right now, Encanto seems likely to end its domestic run around $100 million and should be able to hit some solid profit against its $120 million budget.

It was, on the other hand, a bad week for West Side Story. Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the 1950s musical fell hard from its quiet opening weekend, down 68% to $3.4 million for the #3 spot. That is absolutely the opposite of what 20th Century Studios needed for this expensive film, which reportedly cost $100 million to produce (plus marketing, as always). It’s a drop that brings to mind In the Heights’ 63% drop in June after a mild opening, a drop that was at the time blamed on the HBO Max day-and-date release. That may have been a factor there, but West Side Story is a theatrical exclusive.

That said, this is a film that could get a boost if it keeps in the awards conversation, though even that may not be enough to make it a hit. The film is now up to $18 million domestically and $27.1 million worldwide, giving it a steep climb to make if it even wants to match the production budget, much less make profit. This is likely going down as a bomb.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife slipped 52% to $3.4 million in its fifth weekend. The franchise revival is now at $117.2 million domestically and $173.6 million worldwide, making it a hit against its $75 million budget. Afterlife looks to be ending its domestic run at around $125 million to $130 million.

Guillermo Del Toro’s latest film opened in the shadow of Spider-Man, as Nightmare Alley grossed $3 million for the #5 spot. That’s below the mid-single digit numbers that Searchlight Pictures (another Disney subsidiary) were expecting. The re-adaptation of the 1946 novel, originally turned into a film in 1947, marks the worst wide release opening of Del Toro’s career behind The Shape of Water’s $5.9 million wide release start.

Now, it must be said that The Shape of Water did eventually become a hit thanks to its awards momentum, which carried it to $63.9 million domestically and $195.8 million worldwide. But that film also had an inescapable amount of buzz around it and while Nightmare Alley has good reviews (80% on RT) and similar word of mouth (the same B CinemaScore), it hasn’t yet caught on quite like Shape of Water. The Oscar winner also had a much lower budget at just $19.5 million to Nightmare Alley’s $60 million. But Nightmare Alley isn’t SOL yet, in part because it hasn’t yet hit in overseas markets. In the US, it seems likely to end its run around $15 million to $20 million, but there are a lot of variables here and all bets are off for how high (or low) it lands.

House of Gucci was off 55% in its fourth weekend, bringing in another $1.9 million. The Ridley Scott-directed film is now up to $44.9 million domestically and $106.2 million worldwide, with plenty of room to stretch out as award season heats up. Though it still has a ways to go in order to be a profit against its $75 million budget, it’s not a lost cause by any measure and the domestic total should finish out around $55 million.

The Telugu-language action-drama Pushpa: The Rise – Part 1 landed in the top 10 this weekend, nailing down $1.3 million. The film marks the latest Indian release to land in the top 10, an increasingly common situation and making it another potential hit for Hamsini Entertainment. These films tend to drop pretty quickly, but it is a good start for the movie for which overseas and budgetary numbers aren’t yet available.

Marvel’s Eternals finally fell, down 62% in its seventh weekend to $1.2 million. The MCU ensemble film has now grossed its way into a likely profit, with $163.6 million domestically and $399.7 million worldwide. It’s still making its way toward Shang-Chi’s $418.4 million worldwide total and should still finish off around $170 million domestically. The production budget was $200 million.

Clifford the Big Red Dog fell hard, down 69% in its sixth weekend with $400,000. The Paramount family film has now grossed $48.6 million domestically and $68 million worldwide, plus whatever revenue is being counted off its Paramount+ day and date release. It should be profitable all revenue streams are counted, even with a $64 million production budget. $51 million should be its domestic ceiling.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City went into freefall, down a brutal 83% in its fourth weekend to $280,000. The franchise reboot now has $16.7 million domestically and $31.6 million worldwide, and will not be a hit against even its relatively low $25 million budget. Domestically it should end at $17 million.

Next weekend will No Way Home remain atop the box office, even against some long-awaited films. The Matrix Resurrections is hitting theaters, albeit alongside a day-and-date release on HBO Max, and should land around $40 million to $50 million. Universal Pictures’ animated sequel Sing 2 is targeting a $25 million to $30 million take, while action prequel The King’s Man might bring in $15 million.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Spider-Man: No Way Home – $253 million ($253 million total, $587.2 million WW)
2. Encanto – $6.5 million ($81.3 million total, $175.5 million WW)
3. West Side Story – $3.4 million ($18 million total, $27.1 million WW)
4. Ghostbusters: Afterlife – $3.4 million ($117.2 million total, $173.6 million WW)
5. Nightmare Alley – $3 million ($3 million total, $3 million WW)
6. House of Gucci – $1.9 million ($44.9 million total, $106.2 million WW)
7. Pushpa: The Rise – Part 1 – $1.3 million ($1.3 million total, $1.3 million WW)
8. Eternals – $1.2 million ($163.6 million total, $399.6 million WW)
9. Clifford the Big Red Dog – $400,000 ($48.6 million total, $68 million WW)
10. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City – $200,000 ($16.7 million total, $31.6 million WW)