The Toretto family tried, so did Black Widow, and James Bond even gave his best shot, but it was your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man that has ignited the box office to new heights for the biggest opening since “Avengers: Endgame.” This should come as no surprise, as a combination of the broken ticket presale records and online hype. According to Family Money, the “No Way Home” trailer was voted the number one “Most Popular” of IMDB’s “Most Viewed” trailers.
“No Way Home” had the second-biggest opening of all time, including a $50 million haul during their Thursday previews and a high of $121.5 million; yes, $121.5 million, on Friday. No other movie has grossed over $100 million in one weekend since the pandemic, let alone in one day. The total domestic haul came in at $260 million (second behind “Avengers: Endgame” ($357 mil) and “Avengers: Infinity War” ($257 mil)), and its global haul came in at $594 (second behind “Avengers: Endgame”).
Spider-Man’s rise, while impressive, came at the expense of other movies. Disney (puzzlingly) released “Nightmare Alley” this weekend; a Searchlight property that they engulfed during their purchase of Fox a couple of years ago. Sony may be the owner of Spider-Man’s rights, but “No Way Home” is a co-production between Sony and Disney — a part of their sharing arrangement — and it’s just another puzzling release date decision. 20th Century Studios, another division of Disney, opened “West Side Story” just one week earlier to no curtain call; only making $10,574,618. In the second weekend for Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “West Side Story,” it made just $3,416,000 in its second weekend; a steep 67.7% drop from its opening.
“Nightmare Alley” made an anemic $2,958,000 during its domestic opening; making it the second-highest domestic opening for a Searchlight Pictures film in 2021 (just behind “Antlers” which grossed $4,271,346″ during its opening and ahead of “The Night House,” which opened to $2,859,409). The opening for “Nightmare Alley” is disappointing for any fan of Guillermo Del Toro, or fans of independent films free of an IP. Theaters even went so far as to sending an email ticketholders for “Nightmare Alley,” asking if they wanted to cancel their reservation in order to (seemingly) free up a theater for “No Way Home.” This mess just goes back to Disney, why did they release “West Side Story” just one week ahead of “No Way Home”? And why put “Nightmare Alley” up against “No Way Home”? Even if “No Way Home” isn’t a full-on Disney project, it just makes little sense as to why projects under the Searchlight/20th Century Studios umbrella continue to get buried. It does not take a box office genius to predict that most of those venturing to theaters this weekend will be seeing “No Way Home.” Look, we all love Spider-Man, there is a reason he is likely the most-beloved superhero, but seeing a weekend like this, as great as it is for theaters, does raise questions about whether or not small films have a seat at the table.
The Christmas week brings much more exciting options compared to last year, which had “Wonder Woman: 1984,” “News of the World,” and “Promising Young Woman.” This year, Warner Bros. has another day and date release (like “WW84”) with “The Matrix: Resurrections,” 20th Century Studios is releasing “Kingsman” prequel, “The King’s Man,” and for the family is “Sing 2.” “No Way Home” and its legs, or Iron Spider arms, will be tested in its second weekend. Despite people going in droves for the first weekend of “No Way Home” and will likely return for repeat viewings, how other films with an IP like a fourth “Matrix” movie and a prequel to the wildly-successful “Kingsman” franchise, both of the first two entries grossed over $400 million each, will fare against the MCU is yet to be seen. It will be a treat to watch, but the greatest gift of all is that movies feel like they are back. No matter how many times that sentiment has been said amidst the pandemic, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” finally did it.