For all the mishegaas exhibition has endured during the pandemic including streaming threats, day-and-date window crunching, older demos not showing up, local ordinances and countless release-date changes and eliminations, Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home arrives this weekend to save the day.
The hope here is that Sony’s theatrical window-respecting release not only jolts the worldwide cinema attendee population back into seats as we head into 2022, but also makes moviegoing a habit once again for the masses.
No holiday distraction, Los Angeles weekend rainstorm or alarmist news headlines will prevent people from heading out, especially the box office’s most reliable 18-34 crowd. Read on.
When all is said and done, Spider-Man: No Way Home will have been a fight well worth having and settling between Sony and Disney, the latter who co-financed this $200 million sequel at 25% while also having Tom Holland’s webslinger appear in another Disney/Marvel film. The multi-verse tee-up or culmination –either description works– set off rolling audience screams at last night’s world premiere in Westwood as various MCU and Sony Marvel cameos (Spoiler alert: Doctor Strange is one of ’em) hit the screen. The pic is already 97% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, ranking as the best reviewed Sony live-action Spider-Man movie to date.
Fans are expecting a smart sequel that raises the stakes in a way no other Spider-Man has — and they’re happily going to get what they’ve been asking for. There’s arguably more action in No Way Home than Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and it’s certainly easier to follow and has more heart than the Byzantine-plotted Eternals.
Note that with any movie destined to gross north of $100M+ on tracking, there’s a great standard of deviation given the small sampling of box office numbers.
As far as its U.S.-Canada prospects go, Sony is seeing at least $130 million at 4,325 locations, and Thursday previews starting very early at 3 p.m. with all the strength of Imax and PLF screens. Rivals and tracking see the opening much higher in the $175M+ range, possibly even $200M, though everyone is high because No Way Home is the biggest movie they’ve seen on tracking for quite some time — reminiscent numerically to big December openers like the month’s No. 2 Star Wars: The Last Jedi ($220M) back in 2017, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ($177.3M) in 2019, and Star Wars: Rogue One ($155M) in 2016.
Sony in recent years has never been a studio to get over their skis in box office projections; better to under-promise and over-deliver. But seriously, anything emulating or besting the $90M pandemic opening record of the Culver City lot’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage is pretty damn good. To date, Sony’s biggest domestic opening belongs to 2007’s Spider-Man 3, which made $151.1M during the first weekend of May.
Why are rivals’ projections so high for No Way Home? Because presales for the latest Jon Watts MCU title are at record levels. Deadline hears from industry sources that advance tickets sales at this point in time for No Way Home are running 20% ahead of Rise of Skywalker and 35% behind Avengers: Endgame, the latter yielding the biggest domestic opening of all time with $357.1M. Before its weekend opening, Endgame had logged $120M, which puts No Way Home in the $78M range currently.
Overseas projections are between $160M-$180M; these numbers come with Covid codicils, for sure. This week’s No Way Home rollout starts Wednesday, notably in Korea, the UK, France, Russia, Mexico and Italy. Joining the opening suite through Friday are Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, India and Spain, among others. No Way Home does not yet have a China date, and is unlikely to slot in before the end of 2021.
Could No Way Home possibly become the first movie during the pandemic to ultimately cross $1 billion and without China? That’s what’s on many distribution heads’ minds right now.
The previous Sony/Disney MCU installment, 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, is a tough comp since it bowed early in China, Japan and Hong Kong during the summer, swinging in with a $111M opening frame from just those three markets (unadjusted). Adding most of the world the following weekend, it rose to a $395M international box office debut. China was the lead market on Far From Home at nearly $200M, followed by Korea, the UK, Mexico and Japan.
At the lowest point worldwide, Spider-Man: No Way Home is looking at a $290M start, and if things go gonzo and there’s a flood of walk-up business, the Holland-Zendaya movie would then see $380M WW. That’s a big jump from what we’ve seen so far in the Covid era: Universal’s F9 touted a $163M global opening, while Disney/MCU’s Eternals posted $161.7M. It’s recent figures like that, plus the whole Omicron of it all, that has Sony assessing No Way Home with a grain of salt. Still, the advance optics here are way too good. China’s Detective Chinatown 3 remains the pandemic’s biggest weekend opening ever at $400.4M.
Note that the biggest global opening for Sony is Spider-Man 3 with $381.66M. Spider-Man: Far From Home ranks second with $295.8M. That latter sequel ultimately became the highest grossing Sony movie ever with $1.13 billion.
Searchlight has Guillermo del Toro’s spooky noir Nightmare Alley, which is going wide in 2,120 theaters. Tracking stands at $5M-$6M stateside off critical reviews on Rotten Tomatoes that are 86% fresh. The movie follows an ambitious carny with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words. He hooks up with a female psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is. Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Willem Dafoe, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen and David Strathairn star.
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