Spider-Man: No Way Home defies Omicron fears to massive debut
The Future. Spider-Man: No Way Home bucked every negative pandemic trend and became a global, record-breaking phenomenon this past weekend. Meanwhile, a lot of well-reviewed, auteur-driven adult-skewing films have flopped, creating a theatrical industry of big winners and losers. It may be because, during COVID, audiences are only willing to venture to the cinema if they think they’ll feel cultural FOMO for not watching a movie right away… which Disney and Sony marketed to perfection.
Despite the Omicron surge, Spider-Man: No Way Home proved that people will still show up to the theater if they really want to see something.
- Disney and Sony’s third Spider-Man outing, starring Tom Holland, cleaned up this weekend with a domestic haul of $260 million. That’s the second-biggest domestic debut ever, beating Avengers: Infinity War.
- It also had an overall global box office of $600.8 million (notably, without China), making it the third-biggest debut ever.
- Smashing yet another record, the movie is also the biggest December opening of all time.
Execs at Sony are definitely celebrating: it’s the studio’s biggest opening weekend ever. And it’s terrific news for the exhibition industry, which has been hammered by COVID and the rise of streamers for the past two years. Theaters needed this.
The best of times, the worst of times…
Unfortunately, Spider-Man may be the exception, not the rule. For every seat taken up by the Marvel epic, there were empty ones for a murderer’s row of flicks from celebrated titans of cinema. Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story were the latest to stumble, bringing in only $3 million (in its debut) and $3.5 million (in its second weekend), respectively.
To make matters worse, those two films follow the trend line of other adult-oriented films over the fall Oscar season, despite many getting great reviews. That’s not great for a diverse theatrical recovery. It instead incentivizes theaters to drop showings early of films that don’t franchise blockbusters in order to fit in more screenings of bonafide moneymakers.
Maybe this was all inevitable. Spielberg and George Lucas predicted this new “Broadway-esque” reality almost a decade ago.