“Spider-Man: No Way Home” annihilated expectations in its box office debut, capturing a towering $260 million over the weekend.
How mighty were initial ticket sales? The comic book adventure, featuring Tom Holland as Marvel’s web-slinging hero, has generated more money in a single weekend than any other pandemic-era movie has managed to earn in its entire theatrical run — and that’s despite growing concerns about the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Directed by Jon Watts, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” now ranks as the second-biggest domestic debut in box office history. Only one movie, Disney’s epic Marvel mashup “Avengers: Endgame,” which amassed a historic $357 million to start, has grossed more in a single weekend. Box office experts believe “No Way Home” could be the first movie since “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker” in December 2019 to surpass $1 billion globally.
Demand was sky-high to watch the newest Spidey adventure in theaters because “No Way Home” promised a crossover event of legendary proportions. The third chapter in Holland’s trilogy takes place after Peter Parker’s identity is revealed to the world, igniting global chaos and — most importantly to Peter — causing his best buds MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) to get rejected from MIT. Being framed for murder is one thing, but preventing your friends from getting into college? Well, that’s too far for Marvel’s teen web-slinger. Desperate to restore a drop of normalcy, Peter asks for help from Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), whose spell goes wrong and yada yada yada, Spider-Man is suddenly face to face with villains from past Peter Parker timelines, including Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, Jamie Foxx’s Electro and Alfred Molina’s Doctor Otto Octavius. C’mon, don’t you, too, need to know how the late, great Norman Osborn would fare when facing off Hollywood’s most popular power couple, Zendaya and Holland?
Well, plenty of moviegoers did.
Below, Variety has compiled a list of box office benchmarks — pandemic and non — established by “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
Second-biggest domestic opening weekend in history
Box office experts would have been impressed if “No Way Home” cracked $100 million in its debut. It’s a feat that not a single COVID-era release has been able to accomplish. The superhero adventure put projections to shame, blowing past “Avengers: Infinity War” (which webbed up $257 million in pre-pandemic times) to land as the second-largest opening weekend ever. Bow down to Peter Parker.
Third-largest global debut ever
With final tallies reaching $600 million worldwide, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” ranks as the third-biggest worldwide debut of all time behind “Avengers: Endgame” ($1.2 billion) and “Avengers: Infinity War” ($640 million). Notably, the top two films opened in China, which is currently the world’s biggest moviegoing market, while “No Way Home” has yet to secure a release date there.
Best start in the “Spider-Man” franchise
“No Way Home” newly supplants Tobey Maguire’s 2007 adventure “Spider-Man 3,” with $151 million (not adjusted for inflation), as the biggest Spider-Man opening weekend in history. That level of staying power is considerable because the character — previously portrayed by Maguire and Andrew Garfield — has appeared in eight standalone, live-action films in the past 19 years, in addition to several Marvel Cinematic Universe crossover events, such as “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Endgame.”
Second-highest opening day ever
“No Way Home” managed to rake in $121 million on Friday, cementing the film the second-largest single day earner behind, what else? “Avengers: Endgame” ($157 million). It’s a mind-boggling feat, especially given COVID-19 and such. To put those results in perspective, “No Way Home” sold more tickets on Friday alone than 2017’s “Homecoming ($117 million debut) and 2019’s “Far From Home” ($92 million debut) did in their respective opening weekends. No offense to Quentin Beck or Vulture, but Holland’s former foes weren’t half as enticing as Maguire or Garfield’s enemies.
Top global opening weekend for Sony Pictures
Along with the top “Spider-Man” entry, “Spider-Man 3” also previously stood as Sony’s biggest opening weekend with $381 million worldwide. As if it weren’t already clear, audiences dig Holland’s take on Queens’ finest vigilante.
Biggest December debut
The final month of the year is usually rife with blockbusters, and “No Way Home” still managed to crush tallies for previous December releases. With $600 million globally, Spidey surpassed 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ($529 million globally) as the top start for December. Ewoks, who?
Imax’s biggest weekend since 2019
A huge $36.2 million of global ticket sales came from Imax screens. It’s the largest haul for the premium large format screen since “Avengers: Endgame” with $91 million, as well as the company’s sixth biggest global weekend ever.
“’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ is an exclamation point on the comeback we’ve seen at the box office in 2021, and an emphatic reminder of the unique power of the theatrical experience — especially Imax — to unite audiences worldwide in a global event,” said Rich Gelfond, CEO of Imax.
AMC Theatres’ biggest December opening of all time and best post-reopening domestic attendance
AMC Theatres, the world’s biggest exhibition chain, sold a record 7 million tickets over the weekend while notching several company benchmarks in the process, including the biggest December opening of all time and post-reopening domestic attendance records. AMC says that for the first time since December 2019, when “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” hit the big screen, the movie theater chain has sold at least 1 million tickets each day between Thursday and Sunday.
“Historically, December is one of the biggest months of the year for major blockbuster releases, so to see ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ set a new all-time opening weekend box office record this month is significant not just for AMC, but for the entire theatrical industry,” said Adam Aron, AMC’s chairman and CEO.
Cinemark’s second-biggest opening in history
At Cinemark, another major movie chain, “No Way Home” ranked behind “Avengers: Endgame” as the company’s biggest ticket-seller.
“Spider-Man fans proved they are some of the most enthusiastic moviegoers with their record-breaking support of the film’s debut around the world, making this live-action multiverse an international sensation that must be seen on the big screen,” said Justin McDaniel, Cinemark’s senior VP of global content.