SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME’S record-breaking weekend provided a much-needed refreshment to thirsty exhibitors, and reassurance that movie theatres still have the ability to turn out large audiences.
A number of new releases over the past few months have produced respectable grosses, while still lower than those from pre-pandemic releases of comparable titles. Exhibitors cheered the relative successes of SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS, VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE, NO TIME TO DIE, and DUNE. And then along came SPIDEY, the first major franchise release over the past two years to gross more than earlier films from the same franchise. In fact, SPIDER-MAN’s $260M opening weekend was an unmitigated success, the second-highest box office gross ever.
While the superhero genre seems to be alive and well, there is still concern over the future of mid-budget, adult-oriented films. IndieWire’s Tom Brueggemann points to the anemic $3M earned by Guillermo Del Toro’s NIGHTMARE ALLEY in its opening weekend, a mere 1% of the numbers produced by SPIDER-MAN. Brueggemann expects this stark contrast in results to further solidify the blockbuster uber alles mindset among studio decision-makers.
On the other hand, Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri sees the glass as half full, with SPIDER-MAN’S success only confirming the strong desire for the public to go back to the movies under the right conditions. Movie night on the couch is a qualitatively different experience than at the theatre. He also points out recent box office successes for a handful of original titles, including Wes Anderson’s THE FRENCH DISPATCH and Paul Thomas Anderson’s LICORICE PIZZA. This suggests that mid-budget movies can also have success as theatrical releases, and their prospects will only improve as older audiences become more comfortable participating in public activities, including moviegoing.
See also: ‘Spider-Man’ Opens to $260 Million This Weekend, Changes the Movie Business (IndieWire) and What the future looks like for movie theaters in 2022, according to top industry execs (Business Insider)