The spidey senses of moviegoers tingled throughout the holidays, pushing “Spider-Man: No Way Home” to break box office records despite fears that COVID variants could find theaters empty.
Released exclusively in theaters — a bold plan to stick with just over three weeks after discovery of the COVID omicron variant — the latest installment in the Spider-Man saga has already raked in a reported $1.05 billion, making it the highest-grossing film of 2021.
Though a small group of films have made box office news this year, attendance is still trailing 2019 levels. However, Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com, told CNBC that “‘No Way Home’ proves that people will go back to cinemas if the right movie is there.”
Robbins added, “the new Spider-Man film brought many people to movie theaters who had not been inside one since the pandemic began. In doing so, the audience was able to experience the COVID-19 safety protocols in place at major chains and see new trailers for upcoming features. Such an experience could entice these first-timers to return in the near future.”
A Reuters headline put this film’s significance into perspective, trumpeting the fact that “Spider-Man: No Way Home becomes first pandemic-era movie to smash $1 billion milestone globally” and noting: “It’s impressive that ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ managed to blow past $1 billion in ticket sales worldwide given the rapidly spreading omicron variant of COVID-19.”
That box office haul makes “Spider-Man: No Way Home” the first movie since “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in 2019 to pull in over $1 billion internationally. “No other Hollywood film has come close to nearing those box office revenues in the last two years,” Reuters reported.
Pandemic restrictions continue forcing movie studios and theater chains to tinker with hybrid streaming-theatrical premiers.
This was so for several blockbusters in 2021, notably Marvel’s “Black Widow” and the Warner Bros. sequel “Matrix Resurrections,” which was available on streaming service HBO Max the same day it opened in theaters over the Christmas holiday.
CNET reported that “One of HBO Max’s biggest draws during the pandemic has been new theatrically released movies streaming at no extra charge starting the same time they hit theaters.” The article states that “Matrix Resurrections” is the last time HBO Max is slated to do a same day streaming and theatrical premier, but whether that’s true is unclear right now.
Movie chain AMC Theatres made a marketing splash with a Spider-Man NFT promotion leading up to the premier, along with accepting Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash as payment online.
As PYMNTS reported, “There are more than 100 NFT designs from animation studio Cub Studios. The NFT giveaway is the first such promotion by a major movie theater chain.”
Members of the AMC Stubs Premiere, AMC Stubs A-List and AMC Investor Connect programs who bought opening day tickets for “Spider-Man: No Way Home” got a shot at winning one of 86,000 limited-edition Spider-Man non-fungible tokens (NFTs).