For the first time since the pandemic began, the box office is booming. Spider-Man: No Way Home grossed $50 million in Thursday previews alone, a stunning start for a movie set to break pandemic records.
Sony Pictures’ No Way Home scored the third-largest preview total ever, trailing only those for Avengers: Endgame ($60 million) and The Force Awakens ($57 million). Previews once featured only late-night screenings, but they have steadily moved earlier in the day; No Way Home began playing around 3 p.m. in 3,767 locations.
But there was no exaggerating the eye-popping total for the Marvel release, starring Tom Holland. No Way Home is on pace to be the first release of the pandemic to surpass $100 million. It could go as high as $150 million. The previous best of this year was also a Marvel-Sony release, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which launched with $90.1 million.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is managing to pack theatres even as the spreading omicron variant is forcing closures in the entertainment industry, including numerous Broadway shows. As recently as last week, when Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story opened softly, the box office had been fitfully sputtering back to life.
But while some movie-goers, particularly older ticket-buyers, have been more reluctant, the younger, devoted Marvel fanbase has proven resistant to the pandemic challenges of movie-going. With No Way Home, Marvel releases will make up five of the top six films of the year, including Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Black Widow and Eternals.
The movie has won glowing reviews from film critics as well. As of Saturday, No Way Home has earned a 94% positive score from 264 reviews collected on the Rotten Tomatoes website. Supporters said the storyline would please old and new fans alike.
"Spider-Man: No Way Home is a goliath that feels destined to eat the world, a potent combination of the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe and nostalgia for what came before," said Esther Zuckerman of Thrillist.
Brian Truitt of USA Today called the film "a rousing entry that doubles as a love letter to the comic-book character, a film very much about second chances and a cleverly crafted reminder of that famous adage: 'With great power comes great responsibility.'"