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Spider-Man: No Way Home showed no signs of slowing down as Christmas week commenced, scoring the second-biggest Monday of all time for December and the third-biggest for any time for the year with $37.1 million from 4,336 theaters despite the looming threat of the Omicron variant.
That brings the movie’s four-day domestic haul to $297.2 million. Sometime Tuesday, it will become the first release of the pandemic era to cross $300 million in North America after already scoring the second-biggest domestic opening of all time. Globally, it has earned well north of $600 million through Monday.
No Way Home is a mixed blessing of sorts. While it’s indisputably a big win for theatrical and the box office recovery, it also underscores that the massive divide between big, splashy event pics and everything else, a gap that was exacerbated by COVID-19.
On its opening weekend, Spider-Man commanded more than 92 percent of all business. That’s even higher than a film like Avengers: Endgame (88 percent) and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (70 percent), according to Comscore.
“This is very much a one movie marketplace as Spider-Man: No Way Home, operating in an alternative multiverse where concerns over COVID don’t exist, is for now leaving the box office crumbs for all the other movies to share,” says Comscore’s Paul Dergarabedian.
Nightmare Alley, an ensemble neo-noir thriller, bombed with a fifth-place opening of $2.8 million from 2,145 theaters. The critically acclaimed Searchlight film stars Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Tony Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen and David Strathairn.
Throughout the box office recovery, Hollywood studio executives and specialty distributors have been fretting over the inability of adult-skewing movies to catch on at the box office — it’s true they were already struggling before the pandemic — compared to superhero and horror fare.
West Side Story, a far more commercial offering than Nightmare Alley, was another major blow, opening to $10.6 million domestically from roughly 2,800 theaters over the Dec. 10-12 weekend. Disney and 20th Century were hopeful that the movie — Spielberg’s first musical — would find its voice as the year-end holidays unfolded. While there’s still a chance it might, West Side Story, in a troubling sign, tumbled 65 percent in its second weekend to $3.7 million for a 10-day domestic total of $18.2 million.
One adult-skewing drama that has bucked the gloom-and-doom trend is Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci, which has earned $45 million to date domestically. One reason for its success: star Lady Gaga pulled in younger moviegoers, a demo that is fueling the recovery.
Monday’s box office results provided another worrisome data point for perplexed distribution executives as No Way Home continued to account for more than 90 percent of all business.
“Is that a healthy marketplace? No,” says one source. “There needs to be more depth in the marketplace.”
The year-end holiday box office has always been known for being able to support multiple titles; in 2019, both Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Jumanji: The Next Level did big business.
And even when Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuted to a then-record $248 million over the Dec. 18-20 weekend, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Trip managed to place No. 2 with $14.3 million, while the comedy Sisters opened to $14 million.
As a way of comparison, the No. 2 film this past weekend was Encanto with $6.5 million, followed by West Side Story‘s $3.7 million.
The Christmas season isn’t over yet, and there’s still a major test to come as event pics Sing 2, The Matrix Resurrections and The King’s Man open Wednesday. Director George Clooney’s adult-skewing drama The Tender Bar, starring Ben Affleck, also debuts.
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Santa Barbara International Film Festival