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'Spider-Man: No Way Home' rivals 'Avengers: Endgame' with massive $260 million domestic opening

Surprise! Spider-Man: No Way Home is one of the biggest movies in history.

Spider-man No Way Home Still

If anyone was going to save the beleaguered box office, it was Marvel's friendly neighborhood web-slinger. After more than a year of feverish anticipation, Spider-Man: No Way Home hit the big screen this weekend, drumming up a record-breaking $260 million in North American ticket sales alone ($7 million more than was initially reported).

Not only is this the best domestic opening of the COVID-19 era, it's also a monetary figure theaters haven't seen since the pandemic started to relentlessly pummel the film industry in March of 2020. Moreover, No Way Home has ensnared the second-highest North American debut in box office history, placing it just below Avengers: Endgame ($357 million). Avengers: Infinity War ($257 million) has officially slipped into third place.

"Just when we thought the numbers couldn't get any bigger for No Way Home, Spidey took another leap up the charts by adding a full $7 million beyond the original Sunday estimates as movie fans clearly reacted to the news of the film's quality and record-breaking box office by heading straight to their local multiplex to get in on the action. It paid off big time for the film and movie theaters," Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst at Comscore, tells SYFY WIRE.

In a lot of ways, Tom Holland's third solo outing as Peter Parker shares a lot of the same hype-worthy DNA with the last two Avengers titles, given the promise of an epic crossover adventure that features the return of of classic villains from both the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield eras (Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin, Alfred Molina's Doctor Octopus, Thomas Haden Church's Sandman, Rhys Ifans' Lizard, and Jamie Foxx's Electro among them).

The prevailing rumor that Tobey and Andrew would also be showing up to lend a hand in the fight against this parade of baddies drove audience excitement through the roof, effectively crashing ticket sites when sales first opened in late November. Tickets for opening night became so scarce, in fact, that some scalpers were hawking seats on eBay for tens of thousands of dollars.

"The importance of the record-smashing debut of Spider-Man: No Way Home cannot be overstated as the film resoundingly answered the question as to whether the movie theater as an entertainment option still carries weight with fans in a marketplace that still offers up many headwinds and challenges — from streaming content and myriad entertainment options to continued COVID concerns," adds Dergarabedian. "The film is a full-throttle blast that boasts numerous goosebump-inducing moments and the FOMO factor is off the charts! All of this made for a historic watershed moment for movie theaters that will be talked about for years to come."

Globally, the arachnoid threequel has swung its way to a staggering $600.8 million, which is the third-biggest worldwide opening in box office history — also placing it just behind Endgame ($1.22 billion) and Infinity War ($640.9 million).

"Even though we're still steeped in caution surrounding new COVID variants and different market conditions relating to vaccines and restrictions, the world is showing how eager it is to go back to movie theaters," explains Shawn Robbins, Chief Analyst at Boxoffice Pro. "No Way Home is capturing the global zeitgeist as the holiday season hits full swing, offering both the kind of must-see, all-audience entertainment that Spider-Man and Marvel are known for — and also presenting the opportunity for families and friends to safely return to cinemas for the biggest event film release since before the pandemic. Short-term volatility at the box office is still a factor to keep in mind right now, but these numbers and ticket sales again underscore the power of a great cinematic experience at a time when people need it most."

Picking up immediately after the events of 2019's Far From Home, No Way Home finds Peter attempting to salvage his personal life after his top-secret superhero identity is revealed to the entire world. With no course of action left to him, the tortured high school senior seeks out the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who agrees to cast a spell to wipe the planet's collective memory of who Spider-Man really is behind the mask. The spell ends up going awry and ripping apart the very fabric of the multiverse, allowing the aforementioned villains to come pouring into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The film currently holds a near-perfect score of 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, placing it just above its two predecessors: Homecoming (92 percent) and Far From Home (90 percent). That makes it the second-highest rated Spider-Man title after Into the Spider-Verse (97 percent).

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