We are all living in Spider-Man’s multi-verse, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
Some bits of very important context before I tell you how much Spider-Man: No Way Home made this past weekend. Spider-Man films open well, traditionally. The original Spider-Man, by the incomparable Sam Raimi back in 2002, was the first movie to open in excess of $100 million domestic. Whilst the first proper Marvel Cinematic Universe Spidey flick, Homecoming, similarly demolished the $100 mil opening weekend barrier like it ain’t no thing. (Both films actually opened within $3 mil of each other; $114 mil for OG Spidey, $117 mil for Nu Coke Spidey.) The only Spider-Man film to open under $90 mil without extenuating circumstances – i.e., a five-day weekend skewing the results somewhat, as with Spider-Man 2 and Far From Home – was Into the Spider-Verse and even then that $35 mil opening turned into a ridiculous (for modern standards) 5.5x multiplier when its run finally wrapped up. Meanwhile, the best Spidey opening weekend was for the mega-hyped Raimi finale, Spider-Man 3, with $151 million, at the time the biggest domestic opening weekend in Box Office history.
So, Spider-Man films do well. They do really well. But, of course, we are still in the midst of a pandemic and things have been… mixed to tempered since we decided to give this whole “re-open and do a capitalism” thing another shot. Almost every single success story has come with major asterisks of some degree. Whether it be Warner Bros.’ continued self-own of simultaneously releasing their big would-be blockbusters onto HBO Max in ways that hurt both the opening weekends and long-term prospects, or the struggle for adult-aimed dramas to break into eight-figure results on a consistent basis due to that target audience’s reticence to return in required-enough droves. Even Disney and Marvel haven’t been immune to the qualified success marker. Encanto, when judged only on the three-day weekend and excluding Raya and the Last Dragon due to that launching mid-actual pandemic, became the lowest opening Disney animation since Wreck-It Ralph nearly a decade earlier (almost half the opening, too). No film has yet to break $100 mil domestic on their openings. Our biggest performer these last six months was the Spidey-adjacent Venom: Let There Be Carnage with $90 million, which would’ve been a very good number in non-pandemic times but looks utterly miraculous in pandemic times.
Therefore, your expectations should be suitably set up. Spider-Man: No Way Home was going to do well, but the pandemic would almost certainly keep it from reaching its full potential. Especially this weekend as the Omicron variant wreaks havoc across the United States, putting things on the verge of going back to the square one of March 2020. The last few weekends’ Box Office results, when Omicron wasn’t as ubiquitous, certainly indicated that fear of the new strain was convincing viewers to stay home and lacklustre cinematic offerings couldn’t tempt them out. And look at me dramatically dance around the point DANCEY DANCEY DANCE!
So, then… how much did Spider-Man: No Way Home make across its opening three days (and preview night)?
…er, yeah. Wow. I don’t know what else to add.
Fu-ul list! Fu-ul list! Does whatever a Full List can! Can it swing, from a web? No, it can’t, it’s text on a piece of digital paper. Look ouuuuuuut, here comes a Fu-ul List!
US Box Office Results: Friday 17th December 2021 – Sunday 19th December 2021
1] Spider-Man: No Way Home
$253,000,000 / NEW
Seriously, I’m kinda speechless at this and not really sure what more I can say. Especially since I am absolutely not about to relitigate fucking insufferable arguments about whether or not Marvel is KILLING CINEMA since these are the only films which can reliably open big anymore – ditto the backlash to those arguments, and ditto ditto the backlash to the backlash and OH MY GOD JUST STOP PLEASE. I mean, maybe $253 mil was the upper limit for the movie no matter what, but I also have to sit here and consider the possibility that it could’ve gone EVEN HIGHER were the pandemic completely wiped out! Maybe even a $300 mil debut if the handicap weren’t there? Mother of God, this is wild.
That said, not every one of those $253 mil domestic or *checks notes* $334.2 million international moviegoers were thrilled by what they saw. Dave Bond, for example, who has your review needs covered.
$6,528,000 / $81,544,607
In need of a last-minute Xmas present? Cartoon Saloon’s Irish Folklore Trilogy – comprising The Secret of Kels, Song of the Sea, and the first-time-ever-on-physical Wolfwalkers – was released on Monday. Amy Walker’s got the 5* review penned which is good cos I would’ve been sending her many very strongly worded emails had she deigned to give the collection even a percentile less. These are three of the best animated films of the last decade by the best animation studio working today. Buy this.
3] West Side Story
$3,416,000 / $17,982,021
A catastrophic 67.7% drop. Maybe they should’ve Christopher Plummer-d Ansel Elgort, after all.
4] Ghostbusters: Afterlife
$3,400,000 / $117,249,884
Speaking of nostalgia-fests, Peter Jackson’s first trek to Middle Earth turned 20 this past weekend! Rather than witnessing the once-great Stephen Colbert debase himself, most of the original film’s cast, and two normally-good rappers in a Jimmy Fallon-quality skit, instead get your reminiscence via Amy Walker’s write-up on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring!
5] Nightmare Alley
$2,958,000 / NEW
Oh, right, there were in fact other new films out this weekend. I’m sure they weren’t anything that impor-A GUILLERMO DEL TORO MOVIE?! Why and how has this come out of nowhere?! More importantly, this is more than just your typical Del Toro underperformance – which we fans expect and are prepared for given the history of normies not getting or deserving him. It’s a ruinous opening, the worst he’s ever had for a film opening on more than 1,000 theatres (excepting Pan’s Labyrinth which for some reason opened Wide immediately). Yes, even worse than 1997’s Mimic managed. Like, barely even a third of that film’s opening weekend. Ouch.
6] House of Gucci
$1,854,219 / $44,886,084
Every single critic who nominated Jared Leto for Best Supporting Actor at the Critics Choice Awards should resign from their posts immediately for being unfit to do their jobs. I expected Leto to get noms at places like the Golden Globes and BAFTAs cos those organisations are run by tasteless idiots, but the Critics Choice Awards?! Professional film critics rewarding your drunk xenophobic homophobic uncle at an Irish wake?! Disgraceful.
7] Pushpa: The Rise – Part 1
$1,320,000 / NEW
By the time this runs (assuming it’s posted on a Wednesday since I’m late writing), I should be on my way to see The Matrix Resurrections. It’s been all I can think about for the last fortnight, no joke, and just, one last time, please don’t be boring. I don’t care if it’s bad or if I don’t like it. I can handle those, it’s a Wachowski film. Just, please don’t be boring. Lana Wachowski has never been boring and I don’t want her to start now.
$1,192,000 / $163,598,293
Gets added to Disney+ on 12th January, so guess that’s when my rewatch will come. Trying to get the times to line up for this whilst still seeing new films ended up being more trouble than it was worth, plus…
9] Clifford the Big Red Dog
$400,000 / $48,586,025
…I was initially planning to go see Clifford and my Eternals rewatch on Sunday but knocked them on the head due to Omicron fears. When mixed with my Matrix hype, I’ve been minimising as much as I can any potential infection contact until I can see Matrix. Like, if I missed out on my most anticipated film in forever because I got sick from Clifford the fucking Big Red Dog? Sure, I’d find it funny eventually, but in the moment I’d be furious.
10] Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City
$280,000 / $16,732,990
Speaking of zombies, Destiny 2 recoveree Shaun Dewhirst relapsed again in order to check out the “Bungie 30th Anniversary Pack.” His buyer’s remorse was instant.
Dropped out: Christmas with the Chosen: The Messengers, Dune: Part One, Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Callie Petch could blow the fuckin’ windows out.