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‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ becomes first pandemic-era movie to smash $1bn milestone globally

Sony’s comic-book epic has eclipsed that milestone in a
near-record 12 days, tying with 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
as the third-fastest film to reach the bn-dollar benchmark. Only 2018’s
“Avengers: Infinity War” and 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame”
were quicker, smashing the coveted tally in 11 and five days, respectively.

It’s impressive that “Spider-Man: No Way Home”
managed to blow past $1bn in ticket sales worldwide given the rapidly spreading
omicron variant of COVID-19. It makes Tom Holland’s Marvel superhero adventure
the only movie since 2019’s “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” to
surpass $1bn globally. No other Hollywood film has come close to nearing those
box office revenues in the last two years.

Prior to Spidey’s reign, MGM’s James Bond sequel “No
Time to Die,” which grossed $774m globally, stood as the highest-grossing
Hollywood film of 2022 (and the pandemic). As the first movie to reach $1 bn
worldwide, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” took the earthly throne from
another box-office behemoth, China’s “The Battle at Lake Changjin”
($902m), to officially cement its place as the year’s highest-grossing film
worldwide. It’s also notable that “No Way Home” surpassed that
high-watermark without playing in China, which is currently the world’s biggest
moviegoing market.

At the domestic box office, “Spider-Man: No Way
Home” had another dominating weekend, soaring high above the competition
during a crowded Christmas corridor.

The newest “Spider-Man” adventure collected $81m
from 4,336 North American theatres over the weekend. To put that figure in
perspective, only select COVID-era releases have managed to generate that kind
of coinage in their entire theatrical runs, much less in their second weekend
of release. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” also managed to do so at a time
when several new movies — “The Matrix Resurrections,” “Sing
2” and “The King’s Man,” among others — opened nationwide to
decent (and not-so-decent) ticket sales.

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It brings the film’s ten-day total to a mammoth $467m at the
domestic box office. That tally is more than double the next highest-grossing
movie in Disney and Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten
Rings,” which earned a mighty $224m domestically.

At the international box office, “Spider-Man: No Way
Home” added $121.4m over the weekend and has made $587 m to date, bringing
its global revenues to $1.05bn.

Universal and Illumination’s animated musical “Sing
2” had the biggest start among new releases, debuting in second place with
$23.7m over the traditional weekend and $41m since Wednesday. (That number is
slightly inflated because it includes $1.6m banked from advanced screenings
over Thanksgiving weekend.) It’s a softer start than its predecessor, 2016’s
“Sing,” which had secured a three-day total of $35m and five-day
tally of $54.9m. However, it’s not a bad result for a film targeted at parents
with young kids at a time when family audiences have been especially wary about
going to the movies.

The movie, directed by Garth Jennings and voiced by Matthew
McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Nick Kroll and Bono, has
been well received by audiences, who awarded it a coveted “A+”
CinemaScore. Unless the pandemic has something to say, “Sing 2”
should benefit from a long run on the big screen, especially since it doesn’t
have much competition among family films. The original “Sing,”
centring on a bevy of animals with killer pipes, also opened around Christmas
and played in theatres well into the new year, ultimately grossing $270m
domestically and $634m worldwide. At this rate, the sequel will have trouble
replicating those results but it should remain the de facto choice for
youngsters through the holiday season.

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“The Matrix Resurrections,” the Warner Bros. and
Village Roadshow’s sci-fi sequel, landed with a thud in third place. The
cerebral film landed significantly below expectations, scraping together $12m
from 3,552 cinemas over the weekend and $22.5m since Wednesday. The fourth
instalment in the seminal series, like Warner Bros. entire 2022 slate, is
available simultaneously on HBO Max, though the company didn’t provide digital
viewership metrics.

Lana Wachowski returned to direct “The Matrix
Resurrections,” which stars Keanu Reeves as the sleek cybercriminal Neo
and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity. The $200 m-budgeted tentpole has gotten mixed
reviews (it has a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a “B-”
CinemaScore), which may not move the needle for ticket sales while it’s playing
simultaneously on a streaming service at no extra charge.

“Right now, if you’re under 35 and going to the movies,
your first choice is ‘Spider-Man,’ and your second choice is seeing
‘Spider-Man’ again,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting
firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “You can watch ‘The Matrix’ later
with someone who has HBO. That’s how it is when a single movie is dominating
the market the way ‘Spider-Man’ is.”

Another newcomer, Disney and 20th Century’s “The King’s
Man” finished in fourth place, amassing a paltry $6.3m from 3,180 screens
over the weekend and $10 m since opening on Wednesday. Internationally, the
prequel in “The Kingsman” action franchise didn’t make up much
ground. The oft-delayed spy comedy, starring Ralph Fiennes, nabbed only $6.9 m
from seven overseas markets for a global tally of $16.9m.

At the domestic box office, “The King’s Man” beat
Lionsgate’s real-life sports drama “American Underdog” by a hair. In
fifth place, “American Underdog” captured $6.2 m from 2,813 locations
since opening on Christmas Day. The crowd-pleasing film about rags-to-riches
quarterback Kurt Warner (played by Zachary Levi) has been embraced by
moviegoers, who gave it an “A+” CinemaScore and 98% on Rotten
Tomatoes. Unfortunately, the movie hasn’t been high on audience’s radars and
could get sacked by competitors over the busy holiday stretch.

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Strong reviews didn’t do much to boost Disney’s big-budget
“West Side Story” remake, which landed at No 6 in its third weekend
of release while bringing in $2.8 m from 2,810 venues. The Steven
Spielberg-directed musical has generated $23.9 m domestically since opening
earlier in December. The song-and-dance property has also had a slow go at it
overseas, grossing only $12.7m from 46 international territories so far.
Globally, the $100m-budgeted “West Side Story” has earned only
$36.6m.

After four weeks in limited release, director Paul Thomas
Anderson’s coming-of-age comedic drama “Licorice Pizza” expanded to
786 North American theatres on Christmas Day and collected $2.32m on Saturday
and Sunday, enough for seventh place. To date, the MGM film and awards season
hopeful has generated $3.6m domestically.

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