Spider-Man: No Way Home, starring Tom Holland, Zendaya and Benedict Cumberbatch, will hopefully score the first $100 million-plus opening since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ($173 million) in December 2019, which will hopefully be followed by normal-for-Christmas post-debut multiplier. Think 3.5x, like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ($304 million from a $84 million launch in 2012) and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ($529 million/$155 million in 2016). The over-the-top ideal is that it opens like a Star Wars movie (presumably closer to Rogue One than Last Jedi) and still pulls in a solid holiday multiplier, giving us the first $400 million-plus domestic grosser since Star Wars IX. Could Spider-Man: No Way Home will play like the next metaphorical Captain America: Civil War?
Spider-Man: Homecoming earned $334 million (from a $117 million Fri-Sun debut) along with $116 million in China and $431 million overseas sans China for a $881 million global cume. Spider-Man: Far from Home earned $390 million domestic and $542 million overseas outside of China, and China’s boffo $199 million gross (+71% from Homecoming) pushed it over $1.131 billion worldwide. It jumped 17% domestic and (sans China) 26% overseas, on par with the jump from Avengers: Infinity War ($679 million domestic, $356 million in China and $1.013 billion elsewhere) to Avengers: Endgame ($867 million/$620 million/$1.313 billion). It was the 71% jump in China that allowed Avengers: Endgame to temporarily surpass Avatar ($2.7 billion prior to the Chinese 2021 reissue) as the biggest global grosser ever.
So, could Spider-Man: No Way Home Movies Online follow suit alongside Captain America: Civil War and be not just a Marvel threequel but an Avengers-sized MCU event? The MCU threequel was absolutely Captain America 3, but the “Avengers against Avengers” plotline, along with a co-starring role for Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and supporting turns from the rest of the Avengers along with intros for Black Panther and Spider-Man, turned the summer 2016 release into a proverbial Avengers 2.5. The consequences of the events in Avengers: Age of Ultron interfered with the aftermath of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Heck, both Russo Bros-directed Captain America sequels were “you have to at least see this one to get the whole picture” mythology episodes.
Comparatively, the Thor trilogy went from $449 million to $644 million (+43%) to $854 million (+34%) in 2017. The Iron Man trilogy went from $585 million in 2008 to $623 million (+6%) to (thanks to a 3-D upcharge and a post-Avengers bump) $1.215 billion (+95%). The Avengers quadrilogy earned $1.517 billion, $1.405 billion (-7%), $2.048 billion (+45%) and $2.8 billion (+36%). However, The Winter Soldier soared past The First Avenger’s $371 million cume, earning $714 million worldwide (+92%). Civil War grossed $1.15 billion global (+62%). That’s bonkers for any franchise not starring Keanu Reeves as a hitman avenging his murdered puppy (from $88 million to $171 million to $321 million). Will general audiences consider No Way Home to be more than just Spider-Man 3?
Both Captain America sequels were seen by a larger portion of MCU moviegoers who didn’t always show up for Ant-Man or Thor but showed up for the team-up movies. Will they care about Doctor Strange teaming with Spidey or the return of villains (and possibly heroes) from former Spider-Man franchises? Will the onscreen events qualify as essential viewing for MCU continuity? Far from Home grosses nearly matched Civil War without as explicit a connection to the Avengers films. DC Films’ Aquaman earned $1.148 billion on this same mid-December launching pad in 2018. In normal times (including business-as-usual in China), No Way Home might have played like “just another Spider-Man flick” with around $1.1 billion or like an MCU event and flirted with $1.5 billion.
On a Covid curve, “just a Spider-Man movie” or “an Avengers-level event” may be the difference between “biggest pandemic-era grosser” and “first $1 billion-plus grosser since 2019.” Since we’ve seen films like A Quiet Place part II, Halloween Kills and Venom: Let There Be Carnage play to business-as-usual box office, we could see No Way Home gross as much as it might have sans-Covid. Does that mean an opening closer to $200 million than $100 million and a global cume closer to $1.5 billion than $1 billion? The last thing we want is create expectations where anything below Civil War or even Homecoming is a disappointment. The difference will be whether moviegoers treat Peter Parker as a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man or an officially designated Avenger.