‘Spider-Man’ Box Office: ‘No Way Home’ Nabs Superior $50 Million Thursday

Regular readers know that I periodically “snuck” into IMAX or Dolby showings of a given mega-movie on opening day to watch the various trailers on a massive-sized movie screen. I’ve done this since May 2015, when I waltzed into a 12:30 pm IMAX showing of Avengers: Age of Ultron so I could sample the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Batman v Superman trailers on a big screen. Moviegoing is a peak hours activity, so I wasn’t surprised to see the theater 15% full on a day where the MCU sequel would earn $84 million in domestic theaters. Yesterday was the first time the respective showing (3 pm in IMAX) was sold out. Okay, so social distancing meant that not every single seat was taken, but I still had to buy a ticket to Spider-Man: No Way Home in the very front row.

So, yes, Spider-Man: No Way Home followed a colossal $44 million overseas opening day with a stunning $50 million Thursday domestic preview gross. Cinemark is proclaiming it their biggest domestic opening night for any movie ever. I’m presuming that means their biggest advance-night gross, but it’s still a hell of a thing. And while, yes, advance night showings started as early as 3:00 pm, I’d still argue that most of those who showed up at 3:00 pm or 4:15 pm would have otherwise showed up at 6 or 7 pm had that been the earliest option. All told, $50 million is behind only The Force Awakens ($56 million) and Avengers: Endgame ($60 million). The former opened on this weekend in 2015 and soared to a record-breaking $247 million Fri-Sun debut. The latter crushed all expectations in late April 2019 with a $356 million opening.

It would appear that No Way Home is indeed playing like an Avengers-style mega-event (or a Star Wars-level Christmas tentpole) rather than “just” Spider-Man 3 version 2.0. Spider-Man: Homecoming earned $15.7 million via Thursday previews on the way to a $117 million domestic debut, while No Way earned $92 million over the Fri-Sun portion of a $185 million Tues-Sun 2019 Independence Day opening frame. Conversely, among big-deal offerings, Captain America: Civil War earned $179 million from a $25 million Thursday gross while Black Panther earned $202 million Fri-Sun/$242 million Fri-Mon from a $25 million Thursday gross. Save for the last two Avengers films, the MCU doesn’t tend to overwhelm advance-night preview sales compared to, say, a Zack Snyder DC Films flick, Harry Potter or Twilight, as the films play to general audiences who have no issue sampling the latest entry on Saturday night or Sunday afternoon.

I’m guessing we’ll see a Thurs-to-weekend multiplier closer to the Disney Star Wars movies. Force Awakens earned $56 million on Thursday on this weekend in 2015 toward a then-record $247 million over its Fri-Sun debut. Rogue One earned $29 million toward a $155 million opening weekend while Last Jedi ($45 million/$220 million) and Rise of Skywalker ($40 million/$177 million). If that applies, then Spider-Man: No Way Home has earned, like the Twilight sequels and Harry Potter 7.2, 19-25% of its opening weekend total as of Thursday. That would give the film a possible opening weekend gross between $200 million and $263 million. Yes, we could see bigger-than-ever frontloading, but even 33% gets it past $150 million by Sunday. Spider-Man’s record-breaking $114 million debut in 2002 would be around $179 million at 2021 ticket prices, then Spider-Man 3’s then-record $151 million debut in 2007 would be $202 million.

Presuming this isn’t just a massively frontloaded weekend filled with MCU die-hards with the rest of the weekend traffic comparatively muted (give or take Covid variables), then, yeah, we may see one of the biggest opening weekends of all time, giving theatrical exhibition the happy ending they needed after a very challenging year. There is a skewed irony in Sony banking off rebooting Toby Macguire’s Spider-Man franchise on a whim and then spending too much and trying too hard to turn Andrew Garfield’s Amazing Spider-Man into the next MCU to now turn Tom Holland and Zendaya’s multiverse sequel into a Star Wars-level smash. The kid-friendly film delivers on its promises, so I’m expecting solid word-of-mouth and strong holiday business over the weekend and into Christmas break. The only question is whether No Way Home hits $200 million over the weekend (or perhaps soars might higher).

The Tycoon Herald