Will Spider-Man: No Way Home Swing to a $150 Million-Plus Opening?

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Will ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Swing to a $150 Million-Plus Opening?

Sony’s MCU film will be a huge hit, but because of COVID-19 we don’t know how huge

There’s not a shred of doubt in Hollywood that Sony’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” will be a massive and much needed box office hit for theaters. The question is whether it will be the standard big hit that Marvel Studios regularly provided before the pandemic — or if it will be one of “Avengers”-level proportions.

Expectations have been sky-high for this blockbuster since Fandango reported that first-day presales for “No Way Home” exceeded those for 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and 2017’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” both of which grossed over $200 million during their domestic openings.

“We’re seeing presales where people are even buying seats in those uncomfortable first-row seats where they are looking right up at the screen,” Boxoffice Pro analyst Shawn Robbins told TheWrap. “Ticketing and theater sites crashed when tickets went on sale, and that’s something we’ve only seen with the biggest Marvel and ‘Star Wars’ movies.”

Because of these record numbers and the overwhelming hype, it’s a lock that “No Way Home” will be the first film of the COVID era — and only the fifth December film in history — to open to over $100 million domestic. Sony is projecting an opening of $130 million, which would top the launches of the studio’s MCU predecessors “Spider-Man: Homecoming” ($117 million in 2017) and “Spider-Man: Far From Home” ($92.5 million in 2019).

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But trackers and rival distributors say that the film could top $150 million domestically, which would put it in extremely rarefied air. An opening of over $155 million would outpace the December 2016 launch of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” — and break Sony’s record for the largest domestic opening, which has been held for 14 years by, fittingly enough, Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 3.” Murmurs of a $175 million or even $200 million opening have even been floated.

It’s anyone’s guess what kind of numbers we will see this weekend, because this is the first time we’ve seen a film with this amount of pre-release hype come out at a time when public concern over COVID-19 has also increased. A recent poll from Associated Press/NORC showed that 36% of those surveyed said they were “very worried” that they or someone in their family will be infected, up from 25% in October. Another 31% said they were “somewhat worried.”

That increased concern could bring a reluctance to go to movie theaters, as films like last week’s “West Side Story” have failed to draw older audiences more vulnerable to the virus. But this is a film that has created an intense desire among presale buyers to see the movie as early as possible. The new film completes a trilogy starring Tom Holland as the webslinger with Zendaya as love interest MJ — but also features crossover appearances from MCU characters like Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange.

“No Way Home” has also teased the appearance of loads of returning characters from previous “Spider-Man” films along with some other surprises. That fan service had Marvel devotees cheering, screaming and even sobbing from start to finish at the film’s premiere on Monday — and countless others will want to have that same experience in a full theater before the film’s secrets are spoiled for them. (The film even boasts a 97% among critics aggregated on Rotten Tomatoes.)

“Avengers: Infinity War” benefited from that same FOMO factor,but it didn’t get to $200 million-plus from just those fans. That Disney/Marvel film also got immense walk-up turnout from moviegoers who showed up at theaters to buy tickets for newly created screenings to satisfy the overwhelming demand. The question for “No Way Home” is how much COVID may depress when or even if casual moviegoers see the film.

“Even if walk-up sales aren’t as big this weekend as for ‘Infinity War,’ ‘No Way Home’ is still going to have two weeks of holiday time to really leg out, and there may be a section of the audience that isn’t worried about spoilers and is going to see the film in a less-crowded theater when they are more comfortable,” Robbins said.

Every film released this year has had to be graded on a pandemic curve, but “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is truly the first with the audience good will, critical praise and release period runway to potentially reach $1 billion worldwide. Regardless, Spidey will be a major heat check on how big moviegoing still is in a time of so much turbulent change.