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New Year’s Box Office: 2022 Starts Down Like 2021, Despite ‘Spider-Man’

All films other than the top two grossed $23 million. That's rock bottom. Meantime, "Memoria" had a massive one-week-only New York run.

SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME, Tom Holland as Spider-Man, 2021. ph: Matt Kennedy / © Sony Pictures Releasing / © Marvel Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection

“Spider-Man: No Way Home”

©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Despite having the second-biggest Christmas-period grosser ever with “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (Sony), this New Year’s-adjacent weekend plunged decidedly below similar ones. A roughly $95-million total places it far below the normal range, even without adjusting for inflation, of $140 million and above for the three days.

“Spider-Man,” at $52.7 million, continues its spectacular run ($610 million domestic, $1.37 billion worldwide so far) with one of the best three-weekend results ever. It sold 56 percent of the domestic tickets. Add in #2 “Sing 2” (Universal), also having a stellar run ($89.7 million), and the two successes sold three-quarters of tickets.

The rest come in at mediocre or worse. The overall result is a weekend, despite the big numbers at the top, that did only 67 percent of the same period two years ago. Despite the “Spider-Man” surge, the four-week rolling average sits at 73 percent of the corresponding 2019-2020 period.

To put things in perspective: Two years ago, the beleaguered “Cats,” in its third weekend, grossed $2.6 million. This year, that would have placed #6, with a gross better than half of the top 10. That weekend, six films did over $10 million, two over $25 million. This year, only two better than $10 million, one above $25 million.

“Spider-Man” stands apart from all others, a huge result even in non-Covid times. And “Sing 2” is doing fine, though it isn’t inappropriate to point out that the original animated musical five years ago took in $40 million its third weekend, and had amassed $181 million — twice the sequel — through January 2.

With no new releases — until “The 355” from Universal next weekend — it remains to be seen whether there will be a carryover effect for fresh product. Certainly, Paramount’s “Scream” reboot on January 14 will give some sense extended momentum. But for the rest of the initial two months until “The Batman” (Warner Bros.) comes along on March 4, don’t expect much.

2021 ended up with about a $4.5 billion domestic total, less than 40 percent of 2019. A better gauge of the present state of exhibition is the October-December comparison. That stands at about 75 percent as good. December was 82 percent, obviously driven by “Spider-Man” mainly.

The King's Man

“The King’s Man”

20th Century Studios/screenshot

Apart from “Sing 2,” nothing among the second-weekend titles showed much audience interest. Exact week-to-week comparisons are tricky — three opened on Wednesday, diluting the initial three-day total, and three started on Saturday. “The King’s Man” (Disney) fared best by far — off 24 percent — but is still only at $20 million, with likely the bulk of its gross already in.

“Matrix Resurrections” plummeted 60 percent (don’t blame HBO Max, as it was available from the start) and will end up around $40 million. Among the Saturday openers, two — “American Underdog”/Lionsgate and “A Journal for Jordan”/Sony had initial day totals boosted by advance shows — fared little better. “Underdog” and “Journal” both dropped over 50 percent, although “Underdog” is projected to do as well its second Sunday as its first (and placed #4 overall). “Licorice Pizza” (United Artists) likewise dropped more than half.

Give “West Side Story” (Disney) credit for falling only 26 percent. That’s not unusual for adult-driven titles, where the audience often starts showing up on December 25. It’s at best a small victory. Steven Spielberg’s well-reviewed musical now might reach $40 million domestic rather than the $30 million it was headed for. But that will only reduce the certain steep losses.

This normally is the weekend when specialized titles, especially those headed for Oscar attention, shine and position themselves for long-term returns. Not this year. Most noticeable is the absence of most (“West Side” and “Licorice Pizza” remain likely nominees), but the limited world is literally limited.

Memoria

Neon’s strange risky strategy for Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Memoria” had a stunning initial response. Playing only for seven days at New York’s IFC Center, it grossed $52,656 for a run that ended Saturday. The plan is for it to play one week at a single theater wherever it plays, with no home alternative indicated ever. How well this is replicated remains to be seen, and for certain, the results so far might not suggest this could’ve sustained a long run. But give Neon credit for showing that imagination and creativity can pay off. It is badly needed.

“The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24, releasing for Apple) might have boosted its visibility had the streamer agreed to share the results. Some anecdotal information suggests it performed credibly in its reported 200 or so dates in a second-weekend expansion. It adds Apple TV Plus play on January 14.

The second weekend in three theaters for Pedro Almodóvar’s “Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classics) held well (off only 26 percent, though lower than normal for the director due to current realities). The company also debuted Sundance acquisition “Jockey” at three prime locations last Wednesday, with only $5,230 taken in over five days.

The Top 10

(Last weekend = Saturday, Sunday ranked; for films that opened wide last Saturday, including “American Underdog,” A Journal for Jordan,” and “Licorice Pizza,” the % drop is calculated from the corresponding Saturday/Sunday)

1. Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #1

$52,700,000 (-38%) in 4,206 (-130) theaters; PTA: $12,530; Cumulative: $609,892,000

2. Sing 2 (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$19,600,000 (-12%) in 3,982 (no change) theaters; PTA: $5,036; Cumulative: $89,681,000

3. The King’s Man (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend #4

$4,500,000 (-24%) in 3,180 (no change) theaters; PTA: $1,415; Cumulative: $19,516,000

4. American Underdog (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #5

$4,075,000 (-54%) in 2,813 (no change) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $15,005,000

5. The Matrix Resurrections (Warner Bros.) Week; Last weekend #3; also on HBO Max

$3,825,000 (-64%) in 3,552 (no change) theaters; PTA: $1,077; Cumulative: $30,900,000

6. West Side Story (Disney) Week 4; Last weekend #6

$2,100,000 (-26%) in 2,690 (-130) theaters; PTA: $781; Cumulative: $29,564,000

7. Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Sony) Week 7; Last weekend #11

$1,435,000 (+17%) in 1,645 (-83) theaters; PTA: $872; Cumulative: $123,393,000

8. Licorice Pizza (United Artists) Week 6; Last weekend #7

$1,249,000 (-53%) in 786 (no change) theaters; PTA: $1,589; Cumulative: $6,337,000

9. Encanto (Disney) Week 6; Last weekend #9; also on Disney+

$1,050,000 (-42%) in 2,425 (-375) theaters; PTA: $433; Cumulative: $91,318,000

10. A Journal for Jordan (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #8

$1,175,000 (-62%)  in 2,500 (no change) theaters; PTA: $470; Cumulative: $4,740,000

Additional specialized/limited/independent releases (all three-day unless noted)

Memoria (Neon) NEW – Metacritic: 92; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York 2021

$18,122 (Friday-Saturday only) in 1 theater; PTA: $18,122; Cumulative (full week) $52,656

Jockey (Sony Pictures Classics) NEW – Metacritic: 76; Festivals include: Sundance, Toronto 2021

$3,092 in 3 theaters; PTA: $4,161; Cumulative: $5,230

Parallel Mothers (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2

$30,038 in 3 theaters (no change); PTA: $10,079

Nightmare Alley (Searchlight) Week 3

$972,000 in 1,910 (-225) theaters; Cumulative: $7,582,000

Red Rocket (A24) Week 4; also on Premium VOD

$106,184 in 385 (+8) theaters;  Cumulative: $709,460

Drive My Car (Janus) Week 6

$21,300 in 16 (no change) theaters; Cumulative: $324,523

C’mon C’mon (A24) Week 6; also on Premium VOD   49

$12,309 in 26 (-23) theaters; Cumulative: $1,851,000

The French Dispatch (Searchlight) Week 11; also on Premium VOD

$35,000 in 55 (-15) theaters; Cumulative: $16,002,000

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