Considering all of the alarming news stories this past week about a new surge in COVID infections spurred by the Omicron variant, the hand-over-fist success of No Way Home caught many industry trackers off guard. Before the weekend kicked off, the latest Spidey installment (which also stars Zendaya, Marisa Tomei, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange) was forecast to open at between $130 and $150 million domestically. But those low-ball estimates were quickly left in the dust as No Way Home took in $121 million on its first day alone. In fact, after its first weekend, the film’s $253 million domestic gross already make it the top-grossing movie of the year in North America. Need another metric proving the film’s box-office might? Holland’s previous Spidey chapters—2017’s Homecoming and 2019’s Far From Home—opened to $117 million and $92.6 million domestically.
With overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, who gave the friendly neighborhood Spider-man’s latest a 94% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and audiences, who bestowed it with a rare ‘A+’ grade from CinemaScore (it’s only the fourth live-action superhero film to pull off that untoppable score alongside 2012’s The Avengers, 2018’s Black Panther, and 2019’s Avengers: Endgame), No Way Home became the first film to open to more than $100 million domestically since the pandemic began (the closest was Venom: Let There Be Carnage’s $90 million back in October). The PG-13-rated film’s $253 million three-day North American take came from 4,336 theaters where it earned a $58,348 per-screen average. It piled up an additional $334.2 million from 60 overseas markets, the biggest of which was the U.K. with $41.4 million. More good news on the foreign front: No Way Home has not even opened in China yet, where all things Marvel tend to do boffo business.
Not that you’d know it, but yes, there actually were some other movies playing in theaters this weekend. Finishing in the runner-up spot was Disney’s Encanto, which pulled in $6.5 million in its fourth weekend. The PG-rated animated movie fell -34.6% from the previous frame. Playing at 3,525 locations, the movie scored a $1,851 per-screen average. After four weeks, the animated film about a family living in a magical mountain village in Colombia, featuring the voice of Stephanie Beatriz and songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, has a domestic total of $81.5 million. Overseas, the film has added $94 million, bringing its cumulative worldwide total to $175.5 million.
As for third place this weekend, the bronze spot was decided by the narrowest of margins, with 20th Century Studios’ West Side Story taking it (just barely) despite another disappointing showing. In its sophomore weekend, director Steven Spielberg’s modern take on the classic Broadway musical starring Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler took in a hair over $3.4 million domestically in 2,820 locations—which translates to a $1,211 per-screen average. The PG-13-rated film fell -67.7% from the previous frame and has now scraped up $18 million at the domestic box office after two weeks. The musical has also fared poorly abroad, where it has taken in $9.1 million to date, bringing its worldwide cume to $27.1 million.
Just below in fourth place was Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife with $4 million on the dot. The latest entry in the who-ya-gonna-call franchise starring Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, and Carrie Coon, slipped -52.1% from the prior weekend and earned a $1,035 per-screen average in 3,282 locations. After five weeks, the PG-13-rated title has scared up $117.2 million domestically and another $56.4 million internationally. Its global box-office cume now stands at $173.6 million.
Rounding out the top five was the week’s only other high-profile newcomer, director Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley. The dark psychological thriller from Searchlight bowed to a dispiriting $3 million. Based on the same source material as the masterful 1947 film noir of the same name featuring Tyrone Power, the new Nightmare Alley stars Bradley Cooper as a con-man pretending to be a psychic alongside Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, and Toni Collette. The R-rated film earned a $1,379 per-screen average in 2,145 theaters. It has not opened yet internationally. With a reported budget of $60 million, the movie seems doomed from the get-go despite a respectable 81% fresh rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a smattering of awards buzz for its leading man. It will be interesting to see how—and if—the film can recover from its nightmare debut.