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‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ snags second biggest opening ever at the U.S. box office

Spider-Man balancing on top of a street lamp
Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
(Matt Kennedy / Sony Pictures)

With great power comes great profitability.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” came out swinging at the domestic box office this weekend, with studio reported final numbers giving it a pandemic-best $260 million at theaters.

More than just a pandemic best, it places the “No Way Home” opening second of all-time at the North American box office, behind only 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame” ($357.1 million). The final numbers push it ahead of 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” ($257.7 million). Both “Avengers” titles were distributed by Disney.

On Friday alone, the most anticipated movie of the year had already amassed $121.9 million — the second-highest opening-day tally in domestic box office history and the most lucrative December opening of all time, according to figures from Sony Pictures. The Friday opening was also the best in Sony Pictures and “Spider-Man” franchise history. “No Way Home” cost $200 million to make.

Sony and Marvel’s successful release comes as the rapidly spreading Omicron coronavirus variant has started to dampen other domestic entertainment and sports events.

“This weekend’s historic Spider-Man: No Way Home results, from all over the world and in the face of many challenges, reaffirm the unmatched cultural impact that exclusive theatrical films can have when they are made and marketed with vision and resolve,” Tom Rothman, chairman and ceo of Sony Pictures’ Motion Picture Group, said in a statement. “All of us at Sony Pictures, are deeply grateful to the fabulous talent, both in front of and behind the camera, that produced such a landmark film. “

With the latest “Spider-Man” installment, Marvel has officially swept the top five theatrical debuts since the pandemic shutdowns began in March 2020. In second place was Sony’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” ($90 million), followed by Disney’s “Black Widow” ($80.4 million) “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” ($75.4 million) and “Eternals” ($71 million).

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Tom Holland plays Peter Parker once more in a playful, multiverse-collapsing mashup from director Jon Watts.

The previous biggest opening for a “Spider-Man” film was 2007’s “Spider-Man 3" ($151.1 million), followed by 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” ($117 million), 2002’s “Spider-Man” ($114.8 million), 2019’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home” ($92.6 million), 2014’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2" ($91.6 million), 2004’s “Spider-Man 2" ($88.2 million), 2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” ($62 million) and 2018’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” ($35.4 million).

Directed by Jon Watts, “No Way Home” sees the lives of Peter Parker (Tom Holland), his girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) spiral into chaos after Spider-Man is unmasked and a multiverse — chock full of familiar faces from alternate timelines — is accidentally unleashed.

The stacked cast also includes Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Benedict Wong as Wong and Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, as well as a number of returning villains from previous Spider-Man sagas, including Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin, Jamie Foxx as Electro and Alfred Molina as Doc Ock.

A woman and a man in a Spider-Man suit balancing on a high surface
Zendaya as MJ and Tom Holland as Spider-Man in “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
(Sony Pictures)

The grand finale of the Holland trilogy has wowed critics — scoring an excellent 94% on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes — as well as audiences polled by CinemaScore, which gave the buzzy Marvel blockbuster a rare A-plus grade.

Much like its titular web-slinging teen, “No Way Home” was destined for greatness after making a killing in advance ticket sales. As usual, Sony has opted to release the superhero flick exclusively in theaters, a strategy that has given the studio a significant edge over competitors streaming new titles simultaneously during the public health crisis.

It also helps that your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man continues to be one of the most popular characters in the Marvel canon, recently spurring a turbulent intellectual property dispute between Disney and Sony over the human-arachnid hero.

In the months leading up to “No Way Home,” countless fan theories about what — and especially who — might be introduced into the multiverse have triggered the Spidey senses of diehard Marvel enthusiasts, who likely flocked to theaters immediately if for no other reason than to find out which of those rumors are true.

Arguably the year’s most anticipated movie had its world premiere on Monday, and fans are likely to rejoice at what’s in store.

“‘No Way Home’ ... does strive to pull off something memorable, and largely succeeds,” writes Times film critic Justin Chang.

“It’s rare to see such surreally elaborate narrative gymnastics arise from what is basically a long-running game of corporate tug-of-war ... but there is something admittedly disarming about the solution that ‘No Way Home’ hits upon. Without saying too much ... three parallel Spider-Man universes that once were forced to stand apart now get to belatedly salute each other, in a warm, even reconciliatory spirit.”

Disney’s animated musical “Encanto” claimed second place for the weekend with a $6.5 million haul, according to Comscore. Also new to theaters this weekend was Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley,” starring Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Toni Collette. The Searchlight Pictures period drama landed in fifth place, grossing $3 million and continuing a trend of adult-driven prestige titles underwhelming at the North American box office.

The cast and creatives of Sony’s ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ discuss spoilers, returning villains and the Marvel multiverse at the film’s premiere.

Falling to third place in its sophomore weekend was another adult-skewing film: 20th Century Studios and Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” which picked up $3.4 million for a North American cumulative of $18 million.

Launching in wide release next weekend are Warner Bros. “The Matrix Resurrections,” Universal Pictures’ “Sing 2" and 20th Century Studios’ “The King’s Man.”

Times staff writer Matt Pearce contributed to this report.


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