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'Spider-Man: Homecoming' spins web of box office success

Audiences found themselves caught in Spidey’s web at this weekend’s box office.

Sony’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the sixth movie with the radioactive arachnid-bitten hero in 15 years, landed in first place in its debut week. Pulling in an estimated $117 million in the U.S. and Canada, it surpassed both the studio’s conservative projections of $80 million and analysts’ $90-million to $100-million expectations.

“Spider-Man is back and he's showing once again that he's the world's best-loved superhero,” said Adrian Smith, the studio’s distribution chief. “It’s a big win for Sony in our second-highest opening of all time.”

Starring Tom Holland — the third actor to play the lead character — and directed by Jon Watts, the $175-million picture is the result of an unusual collaboration between Sony and Disney-owned Marvel Studios. “Spider-Man” is Sony’s most valuable franchise, totaling $4 billion in global box office receipts since the series started in 2002 with Tobey Maguire. But after 2014’s underwhelming “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” Sony agreed to let Marvel produce the next film.

Why hand producing duties to a rival? Sony, which financed the movie’s production and marketing and is handling distribution, needed to keep its key property alive, and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has an extraordinary track record making superhero movies featuring Iron Man, Thor and Ant-Man. Though Marvel won’t reap the profits from “Homecoming,” it stands to benefit as it owns the lucrative merchandise rights to the character.

The result of the deal is that “Homecoming" is the first Spider-Man film to take place in the Marvel cinematic universe. This mix of characters and story lines is something fans have long anticipated. (Holland was first introduced as Spider-Man in last year’s Disney-Marvel blockbuster “Captain America: Civil War,” which grossed $1.15 billion at the global box office.) In the new movie, Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr.) serves as mentor to Peter Parker as he navigates high school and his life as an up-and-coming hero.

The deal appears to have paid off with “a film that celebrates what makes Spider-Man unique and relatable and still retains that Marvel signature,” Smith said.

Audiences (59% male and 57% younger than 25) and critics alike favor the action-sci-fi tale — a feat considering a summer of failed reboots including “The Mummy” and “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Moviegoers gave the picture an A CinemaScore, and it has an impressive 93% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Though “Spider-Man 3” from 2007 remains the biggest grosser in the series, opening with a massive $151 million on its way to $890 million, the successful launch for “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is a good omen for Sony’s other planned comic book movies, including the villainous “Venom,” the female-focused “Silver & Black," and even one with an animated Spider-Man.

Landing in second place was Universal’s “Despicable Me 3” with $34 million in its second week. The animated flick has grossed $149.2 million domestically to date. The film’s international total to date is $298.4 million for a worldwide gross of $447.6 million.

Sony’s “Baby Driver,” took third place in its second week with $12.8 million. It’s pulled in $56.9 million domestically to date.

Powerhouse superhero “Wonder Woman,” from Warner Bros., is still holding strong in fourth place, six weeks after its record-breaking debut, with $10.1 million. It’s grossed $368.8 million domestically to date. Globally, the film has a $745.8 million tally.

Rounding out the top five was Paramount’s “Transformers: The Last Knight” with $6.3 million in its third week. It’s brought in $118.9 million domestically to date.

On the limited release front, “A Ghost Story” from A24 — the studio that brought us the Oscar-winning “Moonlight” — started with $108,067 from four screens this weekend. That’s a per-theater average of $27,012. From director David Lowery, the film co-stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.

Next weekend, debuting will be Fox’s “War For The Planet of the Apes” and the Broad Green Pictures’ horror flick “Wish Upon.”

Get your life! Follow me on Twitter (@TrevellAnderson) or email me: trevell.anderson@latimes.com.

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