This image released by Sony Pictures shows Tom Holland in Columbia Pictures' "Spider-Man: No Way Home." (Sony Pictures via AP)

‘Spider-Man’ swings to 2nd all-time at North American box office

No previous film in the pandemic era had opened over $100 million, new Spidey hit $260 million

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” now holds the title for the second-biggest opening weekend ever, behind only “Avengers: Endgame.”

Weekend grosses for the third Tom Holland Spider-Man came in even higher than expected, netting out with $260 million from ticket sales in North America, Sony Pictures said Monday. It’s also the best opening weekend ever for Spider-Man films, Sony Pictures and the month of December.

While the extra push Sunday put “No Way Home,” ahead of “Avengers: Infinity War,” which opened to $257.7 million in April 2018, it’s still a ways behind “Avengers: Endgame,” which debuted to $357.1 million in April 2019.

The stellar opening was a much-needed win for the theatrical exhibition business, which has struggled during the pandemic. Until “Spider-Man” came along, no film in the pandemic era had opened over $100 million.

“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,” said Tom Rothman, Sony Pictures Chairman and CEO, 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.”

In its first five days playing in theaters internationally, the movie amassed $334.2 million in ticket sales, bringing its global total to $587.2 million against a $200 million production budget. The film has yet to open in markets like Thailand and Japan, and there is no release date set for China.

As the third standalone Spider-Man film in the Tom Holland era, “No Way Home” was always going to be an “event film” for fans. After several delays over the year Sony planted its launch in the pre-Christmas frame and as of late last week had anticipated a pandemic-best opening in the $130 to $150 million range. But it quickly became clear that “Spider-Man” was going to fly much higher. The film netted an incredible $121.5 million in its first day — bumping “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” out of the No. 2 position.

Directed by Jon Watts, “No Way Home” picks up with Holland’s Peter Parker grappling with the world finding out about his superhero identity, and features Zendaya, Marisa Tomei and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. The promise of spoiler reveals only added to the feverish hype that led to lines and sell-out showings across the country.

“For the target audience, this is absolute must-see, required viewing,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. “There is no way fans were going to opt out because of omicron.”

Many moviegoers also shelled out top dollar to see the film on the biggest screens possible. According to IMAX, an estimated $36.2 million of the global total is from their large format screens.

“’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ is an exclamation point on the comeback we’ve seen at the box office in 2021,” said Rich Gelfond, CEO of IMAX. “With these historic results, IMAX continues to see blockbuster releases generate box office at or exceeding pre-pandemic levels.”

And it’s not just fans who have been giving the film good marks: Reviews have been overwhelmingly positive as well. It has a 94% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

—Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press

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