Entertainment & Arts

‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ might be the rare Hollywood reboot audiences actually want

Watch the trailer for “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

During a summer that has included box office duds such as “The Mummy” and “Transformers: The Last Knight,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming” could be the rare Hollywood reboot audiences actually want.

There’s reason to be skeptical: It’s the sixth movie with the radioactive arachnid-bitten hero in 15 years, and features the third actor to play him on the big screen. Adding to the pressure, audiences have not been kind to sequels and reboots this season.

But there is appetite for more web-slinging action, according to people who have read pre-release audience surveys. The $175-million “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the result of an unusual collaboration between Sony Pictures and Disney-owned Marvel Studios, is expected to gross $90 million to $100 million in the United States and Canada from Thursday night through Sunday.

That would make it another winner for Marvel and a much-needed hit for Sony, which has struggled at the box office in recent years (though it did release the successful “Baby Driver” over the Fourth of July weekend). Sony, which is distributing the film, is trying to keep expectations for “Homecoming” in check, conservatively estimating an $80-million opening.

Another Marvel hit?

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 in the lead role. But after “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” underwhelmed, Sony in 2015 agreed to let Marvel Studios produce the next film.

Why hand producing duties to a rival? Sony, which financed the movie’s production and marketing, 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. Marvel won’t reap the profits from “Homecoming,” but stands to benefit because 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 Marvel’s broader “cinematic universe” of superhero movies. This mix of characters and story lines is something fans have long anticipated. In the new movie, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) serves as mentor to Peter Parker as he navigates high school and his life as an up-and-coming hero.

The arrangement was a gamble, but there are already signs it’s paying off. Tom Holland was first introduced as Spider-Man in last year’s Disney-Marvel blockbuster “Captain America: Civil War,” and was warmly received. “Civil War” grossed $1.15 billion at the global box office.

A ‘Spider-Man’ movie with legs?

Not every franchise movie has wiped out this summer. The most obvious example, Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman,” has shown remarkable staying power by amassing $714 million in worldwide ticket sales after opening with $103 million domestically.

“Wonder Woman” is unique, benefiting from decades of pent-up demand for a bona fide female superhero movie. Yet “Wonder Woman” and “Spider Man” have key factors in common: They’re both critically praised for their fresh takes on familiar characters. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” has earned overwhelmingly positive reviews so far, in part for its channeling of John Hughes’ coming-of-age comedies. The new “Spider-Man” also avoids the origin story narrative that was thoroughly explored in earlier installments.

Strong buzz and good reviews bode well for the film to continue drawing moviegoers after its opening weekend, in contrast to the poorly received “Amazing Spider-Man 2,” starring Andrew Garfield. That film opened with a solid $91 million in 2014, but fell off quickly and ended up with a soft $709 million worldwide. “Spider-Man 3” from 2007 remains the biggest grosser in the series, opening with a massive $151 million on its way to $890 million.

A successful launch for “Spider-Man: Homecoming” would be 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.

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