As of the writing of this blog, we are exactly one month away from the new Spider-Man movie and not a minute too soon for the MCU, but also the box office. Despite recent headlines predicting surges in COVID cases for some parts of the country as winter approaches, a large percentage of the population remains unvaccinated. While vaccinations have polarized the country, despite their high efficacy rate against the COVID-19 virus, it’s hard to argue with the fact it’s cost nearly a million American lives and all but destroyed moviegoing as we knew it.
Disney, who owns the MCU, has two of the top three domestic money makers of 2021 with Shang-Chi at number one with $224,882,418 and Black Widow at number three with $183,651,655 (this was a theatrical/Disney+ dual release). The last MCU movie prior to the pandemic was Spider-Man: Far From Home which took home $390,532,085 domestically almost double this year’s top Marvel movie and went on to a total of 1.3 billion internationally. The highest take for any Spider-Man movie from Sony or Marvel.
The last two MCU films were also a departure from their predecessors because they had no recognizable characters to non-comic fans with Shang-Chi and the Eternals. Black Widow likely would have done more box office if not for the decision to make it a dual theater/online release. Disney CEO Bob Chapek claims the number was more likely 60,000 more based on the number of subscribers who paid the premiere price of $30 to watch it at home on Disney+. Maybe a good thing to tell his stockholders, but his fast thinking got him a lawsuit from the movie’s star based on money lost from not getting a normal theatrical run.
It was also an odd decision to release back-to-back movies with characters unknown to those who don’t read comic books. In the past, Disney would introduce one or two characters at a time and usually added them to characters already familiar to moviegoers. The Eternals introduced 10 new characters totally new to moviegoers who struggled to understand any connection between them and the Avengers. The result is likely going to lead to the lowest domestic box office income of all the MCU films (A title currently held by The Amazing Hulk). They may try and blame it on the pandemic, but it was likely poor execution of having Eternals follow a movie that just introduced a new member in Shang-Chi to the MCU.
But all that changes on December 17th with the return of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man for his 4th film in the MCU. This will likely be the top domestic box office movie of the year unless the story tries to go in too many directions. Rumors have been running rampant about the plot and we received a good deal of confirmation today with the official trailer for the new Spider-Man film. We know they are bringing back 5 previous villains from former Spider-Man films before Tom Holland took on the role. The trailer showed Alfred Molina (Dr. Octavius), Willem Dafoe (Green Goblin), Jamie Fox (Electro), along with Villains Sandman, and the Lizard which were all in the Sony Spider-Man films. This could be the only thing to hurt the new Spider-Man film. We already know Dr. Strange will be joining Spider-Man, adding so many villains along with the returning characters (Peters friends and family) from the other films when there’s only so many minutes to go around.
These are not new characters since they appeared in previous Sony iterations of Spider-Man with actors Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Rumors of all three Spider-Man actors being side by side have been floating around for months with photos showing the three together (Disney has been claiming the photos were fabricated). We likely won’t know for sure till December 17th. This Spider-Man movie should take the crown for top domestic film of the year with ease. Not only pulling the MCU out of the doldrums, but perhaps making this the first year since the pandemic AMC can claim a profit. At the start of November, they were 2 billion away and hence the title of this blog as it will likely be Spider-Man: Far From Home that will get AMC over the line and possibly be the only billion-dollar movie internationally this year.
I have been predicting for months Spider-Man will be the highest grossing film of 2021 and I’ll finally find out if my prediction was correct come mid-December. The top two international takes for American films are F9: The Fast Franchise and James Bond’s No Time to Die both with about $700 million which is well behind The Battle at Lake Changjin with $882 million and Hi, Mom earning $822 million (showing the strength of the Chinese market). Will Spider-Man top a billion? Remember, with great power, comes great box office responsibility.