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Why Spider-Man’s Latest Box Office Milestone Is So Much More Impressive Than You’d Think

Tom Holland as Spider-Man in "Spider-Man: No Way Home."
(Image credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Spider-Man had a very special “gift” waiting for him on Christmas Day. The latest movie featuring Marvel’s beloved wallcrawler, Spider-Man: No Way Home, was expected to sail past the $1 billion mark at the global box office (once final numbers land), which makes it the holder of several new records. It’s now the highest grossing film of 2021, as well as the first movie to cross $1 billion in the period that Hollywood studios define as “the pandemic era.” It’s currently Sony Pictures Entertainment’s highest grossing domestic release in the studio’s history, and the second Spider-Man movie (following Tom Holland’s Spider-Man: Far From Home) to cross $1 billion

Except Spider-Man: No Way Home did it in roughly two weeks. And it did it without the help of China, a global box-office juggernaut that can only boost totals if and when it decides to release the film.

Spider-Man: Far From Home, the previous record holder for highest-grossing worldwide Spider-Man earnings, ended its theatrical run with a $1.132 billion haul. Spider-Man: No Way Home will have that sewed up before the year is over. You can tell that No Way Home is going to far outperform Far From Home by looking at its domestic totals. The current Spidey adventure already has outpaced its predecessor, posting $405 million in the U.S. as of December 24. Far From Home topped out, domestically, at $390.5 million, so that record already is shattered. 

Here’s where we mention that Spider-Man: No Way Home is doing this in the face of rising COVID numbers and the introduction of a new strain of the virus in omicron. Though vaccinations and mask mandates are making people feel safer heading back to theaters, there was also the very real possibility that mainstream crowds would choose to play it as safe as possible and avoid multiplexes over this holiday season. Instead, in an effort to avoid massive spoilers and enjoy the communal nature of the theatergoing experience, crowds have packed and continue to pack movie theaters around the globe. 

And here’s where we also mention that Spider-Man: No Way Home is posting these record-setting numbers without the help of China. Marvel Studios movies have not been releasing in China this year, largely due to restrictions on entertainment by the Communist Party and its severe regulations. Black Widow, Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings all missed out on coveted releases in the major global market, and while Spider-Man: No Way Home still might secure a release, the fact that it’s posting such massive numbers without China’s help is staggering. 

This is only the beginning for Spider-Man: No Way Home. If you look for tickets at neighborhood theaters, you will likely find multiplexes packed and very little available beyond single seats. Other movies like The Matrix Resurrections and The King’s Man don’t appear to be offering much resistance for the webslinger, who should be able to maintain significant momentum for weeks to come, and could even test that vaunted $2 billion mark if China decides it wants to play along.   

Managing Director at CinemaBlend. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.