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Weekend Wrap-Up

Spider-Man Comes Home to Marvel

By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis

July 9, 2017

A Spider-Man can hang out comfortably anywhere.

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An engrossing box office debate began a couple of years ago. What would happen if one studio systematically destroyed a known property but then handed its caretaking over to a different, more trusted brand? Would movie audiences forgive the property for its prior failings or would they hold a grudge? This weekend, consumers finally settled the issue, as a $175 million production entered the marketplace and promptly dominated the competition.

In the immortal words of U2, Spider-Man enjoyed a sort of homecoming.

Yes, Spider-Man: Homecoming is the number one film in North America this weekend, but that outcome was always a foregone conclusion. What’s important here is the opening weekend total of $117 million. In combination with another $140 million earned overseas, Sony’s already effectively in the black on Spider-Man after a few days of release, not that this was ever a concern.

How strong is this performance? Well, that depends on where you stand on the topics of comic book movie fatigue in general and Spider-Man specifically. On the former topic, 2017 has undeniably been a phenomenal year for comic book movies thus far. Wonder Woman is 92% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes and will be the subject of box office analysis in just a moment. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is 81% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes and currently stands as the number one film of the year. Even if superhero fatigue is a real concern, it hasn’t played out in recent months.




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That leaves the discussion about the character in the weekend’s number one movie more about branding. As Tim Briody mentioned yesterday, Spider-Man was the first movie ever to open to $100 million. Its 2002 performance inflation-adjusts to $174.4 million today. Over the past 15 years of mega-openings, 45 other movies have joined Spider-Man in the $100 million openers club, the rarefied air of movie box office.

The latest one is Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is something of a surprise to box office tracking services, most of which pegged the film in the $90 million range. Sony poor-mouthed the film even more, saying that they expected only $80 million over three days. The explanation for these lowball estimates is that Spider-Man has been a dying brand for a while, at least in movie theaters.

After the high point in the franchise, Spider-Man 2, Spidey’s had exactly one good weekend. That was the opening of Spider-Man 3, which became the first film to break $150 million in three days. Its $151.1 million was a dazzling display for 2007 and would still be described as such today. Adjusting for inflation, Spider-Man 3 earned $194.1 million, which would qualify as the fourth biggest opening ever. Basically, the last three paragraphs reflect that Spider-Man was once the most powerful franchise in the industry.

Then, Sony cast Andrew Garfield. Okay, that’s a cheap shot. Tobey Maguire’s jazz hands in Spider-Man 3 led to some horrific word-of-mouth, as the film earned “only” $336 million domestically. That sounds solid on its own until you notice that the movie grossed only $185 million after opening weekend. It…wasn’t well received. Then, Garfield showed up in an ill-conceived reboot attempt only a decade after the original and merely five years after Spider-Man 3. It’s the equivalent of a Twilight reboot debuting next week…and nobody wants that.


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