Weekend Box Office (December 17 - 19, 2021)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Super hero movies have ruled the pandemic box office and now the latest one - Spider-Man: No Way Home - has shattered records and expectations kicking off what is sure to be a colossal run over the holiday season.

The new Spider-Man film generated an eye-popping $260M opening weekend in North America, according to final figures, becoming the second biggest debut of all-time behind only Avengers: Endgame ($357.1M in April 2019). These sky high numbers were achieved not only during a pandemic, but at a time when Covid cases are rising and the new Omicron variant has many people concerned and changing their behavior for indoor activities.

At the end of the day, No Way Home played out like the next Avengers movie. Adding in Doctor Strange and multiple characters from past Spidey flicks brought something new to the table which sparked curiosity and intrigue. Fan chatter has been red hot for months and those not wanting to face spoilers rushed out upfront to see Sony's new PG-13 adventure. Just like the third Captain America and Thor films added extra Marvel characters into the mix, this third Tom Holland solo movie did the same and is now enjoying the rewards. In fact, Holland is now a key part of all three of the largest opening weekends ever.

The NWH weekend kicked off with a stellar $50M from Thursday pre-shows which started early at 3pm. It was #3 all-time behind Endgame's $60M and the $57M of Star Wars: The Force Awakens from this very same weekend in 2015. The full opening day Friday was $121.9M (including pre-shows) which was second best ever behind Endgame's $157.5M. Saturday saw a 39% drop to $73.9M which was not surprising, and Sunday fell only 13% to $64.2M which was $7M higher than estimates. It's a mind-boggling number and a dizzying height. We've never seen anything close to this for Iron Man, Batman, or Superman movies.

No Way Home averaged a killer $59,963 from 4,336 theaters nationwide and fans came out in big numbers for IMAX and other premium-priced options. Theatrical moviegoing continues its movement into the world of the "experience." Consumers come out most for movies that deliver that different experience on the big screen with big sound and the roar of the crowd. The new Spider-Man came through on its promises as reviews were very positive across the board plus audience feedback was excellent. The CinemaScore was a glowing A+, the Rotten Tomatoes audience score is at 99%, and PostTrak was a 5 out of 5. It doesn't get much better than this and the high rate of customer satisfaction will be crucial as the lucrative holiday season approaches.

Remember, Star Wars TFA opened to about the same level on the same weekend before Christmas and banked a jaw-dropping $742.2M by the end of New Year's weekend after 17 days on its way to a record $936.7M. It's way too early to predict final grosses. But breaking $700M and $800M are certainly in the cards and beating out the $858.4M final of Endgame cannot be ruled out at this point.

The newest MCU installment became the highest grossing movie of the whole pandemic in just its first weekend alone. In fact it almost tripled the previous pandemic opening weekend record of $90M by Venom: Let There Be Carnage and the total surpassed the $224.5M of Shang-Chi, the top blockbuster of the Covid era until now.

Spider-Man: No Way Home opened across most of the world this weekend and fans rushed out everywhere with a sensational overseas opening weekend of $340.8M without any business from China. That puts the worldwide launch at an amazing $600.8M across only five days with the holidays still to come. Top markets included the U.K. with $42.3M (5-day), Mexico $33.3M (5-day), Korea $23.6M, Australia $18.8M, India $18.2M, Brazil $18.6M, France $19.2M, Russia $17.9M, Italy $13M, and Germany $11.4M.

These are fantastic grosses across all regions especially since Covid is still a major issue in many countries. Look for Spider-Man to reach $900M by Christmas and flirt with the billion dollar mark by the end of only its second weekend of play with so much more to go. Finishing north of $1.7 billion is possible which would easily make it one of the top ten global blockbusters of all-time!

Disney's current animated offering Encanto held onto second place and enjoyed the lowest decline in the top ten slipping only 35% to $6.5M. The cume is now $81.5M making it the highest grossing PG-rated film of the whole pandemic. Coming up are the holidays when these types of movies usually see a second life. However, it could be a different scenario for Encanto since it begins streaming at home for Disney+ subscribers this Friday, plus Universal will open rival toon Sing 2 on Wednesday. Still, for a kidpic, the numbers have been about as good as they get these days.

Steven Spielberg's musical West Side Story lost 65% of its audience with Peter Parker rolling in and fell from first to third place in its second weekend grossing $3.7M. The PG-13 pic has grossed $18.2M in ten days and hopes to stabilize as the holidays approach and appeal to its older audience slowly over time in the coming weeks as a unique offering in what will be a crowded Christmas marketplace.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife was up next dropping 52% in its fifth weekend to an estimated $3.4M. Sony's franchise title has collected $117.3M so far in North America and $173.7M worldwide.

Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro's new mystery Nightmare Alley opened in fifth place this weekend offering an alternative for those not interested in super heroes. The Searchlight release bowed to $2.8M from 2,145 theaters for a $1,311 average. Reviews were strong for the R-rated period thriller starring Bradley Cooper and the pic hopes to draw in adult audiences throughout the holiday from word of mouth, though the CinemaScore was only a B.

The Lady Gaga drama House of Gucci placed sixth with $2M, down 52%, for a cume to date of $45M. Adult dramas have rarely been able to cross $40M during the pandemic so UA has a good performer here, considering the current climate.

The previous film in the MCU line-up Eternals followed in seventh place with $1.2M in its seventh weekend. Down 62%, the Disney release has banked $163.6M making it the sixth biggest blockbuster domestically of the entire pandemic. The global tally is about to break $400M as the international gross now stands at $236.1M for $399.7M worldwide, and that's with no China release.

India's newest film, the Telugu language action drama Pushpa The Rise, performed very well in the US opening in the top ten at the number eight spot with $1.1M for the weekend and $1.6M since its Thursday launch. Playing in 370 locations it averaged a solid $2,919 per site.

Paramount's kidpic Clifford tumbled 69% from last weekend to $404,068 pushing the cume to $48.6M. The PG-rated pic has also been streaming on Paramount+ during its entire theatrical run. Rounding out the top ten was another brand - Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City - which fell a disturbing 81% to $316,000 giving Sony $16.8M overall.

The top ten films grossed $281.3M which was in another league compared to the microscopic $6.3M from one year ago when we were in a very different place. But this weekend's figure was up a healthy 16% from 2019 when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opened in the top spot with $177.4M promoted as the final film of the saga.

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# Title Dec 17 - 19 Dec 10 - 12 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Spider-Man: No Way Home $ 260,000,000 4,336 1 $ 59,963 $ 260,000,000 Sony
2 Encanto 6,483,152 9,985,099 -35.1 3,525 4 1,839 81,499,759 Disney
3 West Side Story 3,657,197 10,574,618 -65.4 2,820 2 1,297 18,223,218 Disney
4 Ghostbusters: Afterlife 3,400,000 7,100,000 -52.1 3,282 5 1,036 117,250,000 Sony
5 Nightmare Alley 2,811,703 2,145 1 1,311 2,811,703 Searchlight
6 House of Gucci 1,985,602 4,112,028 -51.7 1,907 4 1,041 45,017,467 UA Releasing
7 Eternals 1,206,854 3,149,849 -61.7 1,900 7 635 163,613,147 Disney
8 Pushpa The Rise 1,080,000 370 1 2,919 1,625,000 Hamsini
9 Clifford 404,068 1,302,231 -69.0 1,248 6 324 48,590,093 Paramount
10 Resident Evil: Welcome 316,000 1,650,000 -80.8 719 4 439 16,800,000 Sony
Top 5 $ 276,352,052 $ 34,921,594 691.4
Top 10 281,344,576 40,753,918 590.3
Top 10 vs. 2020 281,344,576 6,250,928
Top 10 vs. 2019 281,344,576 243,217,105 15.7
Below the Top 10:
Dune 248,871 870,093 -71.4 315 9 790 106,877,357 Warner Bros.
Venom 2 225,000 770,000 -70.8 450 12 500 212,400,000 Sony
The French Dispatch 112,675 247,142 -54.4 180 9 626 15,805,835 Searchlight

Last Updated: December 25, 2021 at 11:00AM ET

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