On the other hand, even the “good for the pandemic” successes were less prevalent than studios would have liked, and most films failed to get off the ground altogether. This was especially true for adult driven dramas and specialty box office releases, and those segments of the box office have yet to have a breakout hit. Hopes are still high for 2022 to take us beyond the shaky box office of 2021, though it is beginning on an uncertain note.
In the past few days, news has come out that all in-person events at Sundance are canceled, theaters are shuttered in Ontario, and Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man Universe set Morbius is delayed from January 28 until April 1, though the delay may have as much to do with the continued box office dominance of Spider-Man: No Way Home as it has to do with the spread of the virus. It is unclear if these disruptions are a taste of things to come for 2022 or if they represent something of a finale for Covid constraints being put on the industry. What we do know is that it may be a while before the box office feels less lopsided. While Spider-Man is holding steady, much of the rest of the box office is struggling to stay afloat. Just one other film grossed above $5 million last weekend, and this weekend will likely have only three films above $5 million, compared to eight films in the first weekend of 2020.
No Way Home enters its fourth weekend having just passed The Avengers’ $623 million as it moves up the list of the all time best domestic grossers. By the end of the weekend, it should become number six, passing Jurassic World and Titanic, and it will be eyeing the number five spot held by Avengers: Infinity War with $679 million. Beyond that, Black Panther’s $700 million is in close range, though Avatar’s $760 million, the third best ever, is more of a long shot. However, the lack of competition in January, especially with Morbius no longer in the picture to take up space on the premium screens, gives Spider-Man some extra room to crawl.
Another number one weekend is in the cards for Spidey, while second place will have to be fought for by holdover Sing 2 and newcomer The 355. The female-led spy film features a cast that is a who's who of some of the finest leading ladies in the industry. Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong'o, Penélope Cruz, Diane Kruger, and Fan Bingbing headline the film, getting their Jane Bonds on as agents from spy organizations around the world, teaming up to thwart a terrorist plot that could spark another world war. Sebastian Stan and Édgar Ramírez appear in supporting roles.
The film, which Universal is distributing in the U.S. and U.K., is the second outing as a director for screenwriting vet Simon Kinberg, having previously helmed the X-Men film Dark Phoenix, also with Chastain. Despite the top caliber cast, expectations for the opening are tempered. The reviews are poor thus far (31% on Rotten Tomatoes), and the last minute embargo on them doesn’t signal confidence. It will be theatrical exclusive for 45 days before premiering on Peacock.
Sing 2 has become the top grossing animated film since the pandemic began, and it will cross $100 million this weekend. However, it lags considerably behind the first film, with roughly half the gross of the original at the same point in its release. The sequel will likely fall further behind as it premieres on VOD this weekend, coming three weeks after it opened theatrically.
Getting a limited release from Amazon is Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s latest drama A Hero, which won the Grand Prix at Cannes. The acclaimed film (95% on Rotten Tomatoes) is theatrical exclusive for two weeks before hitting Prime. Farhadi had an arthouse hit with the Oscar winning A Separation which grossed $7 million in the U.S., a record for an Iranian film, and he has continued to remain a box office draw.
IFC is launching the well reviewed (85% on Rotten Tomatoes) home invasion thriller See for Me in limited release and VOD.