Spider-Man: No Way Home’s $260 million box-office debut smashes all pandemic records

A runaway hit.
A runaway hit.
Image: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
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The box office’s spidey senses say the movies are back with a bang. Spider-Man: No Way Home, which released on Dec. 17, raked in a whopping $260 million in the US during its opening weekend.

The latest and final movie in the Tom Holland-starring trilogy was expected to make $130 to $150 million on its opening weekend. On its first day alone, it brought in $121 million. The 27th Marvel cinematic universe entry had the second-biggest opening of all time, in between two Avengers films.

The movie broke pre-sales records in several markets, including the UK, Spain, Brazil, and Central America. Globally, it amassed more than $587 million over the weekend. This, despite the film not releasing in China yet.

The stellar debut is “particularly impressive given the constraints of a marketplace still very much impacted by covid related news and concerns,” Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore, told Variety magazine.

Does Spider-Man’s success confirm the revival of cinemas?

Since covid-19 wreaked havoc, the future of theaters has looked bleak. But the web-slinging superhero has altered that fate: The latest Spider-Man movie not only became the first movie to cross the $100 million-mark in the last 18 months, but its also made more money in one weekend than any other movie has in its entirety during the pandemic.

However, analysts warn Spider-Man’s success could be more anomaly than trend.

For one, it’s a superhero movie—they always work. The Marvel fan base, which skews young and loyalist, swarms theaters against all odds. The two biggest movies of the pandemic era before Spider-Man were Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

Additionally, it helps that the friendly neighborhood hero’s latest outing is a runaway critical hit among audiences, who’ve given it a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Unfortunately, other movies aren’t faring nearly as well. This month, Steven Spielberg’s critically acclaimed West Side Story opened to a sobering $10 million—a third of the $31 million it was expected to make—and Nightmare Alley made a miserable $3 million. With Spider-Man taking over all the screens, chances of redemption for either are slim.

Plus, this big-budget event film arrived in the nick of time—just before omicron sends things south again.

Will Omicron discourage moviegoing again?

Around the world, measures are already being tightened, and movie screens are facing the heat. Germany is asking cinema-goers for proof of vaccination and negative test results. Multiplexes in Denmark shut for four weeks on the day No Way Home released.

In theaters in the US—where the first omicron case was detected on Dec. 1—it is still business as usual. For now.

This piece has been updated with the most recent weekend figures.