‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Set to Battle Pandemic, Outsized Box Office Projections

After a multi-week box office lull, Sony Pictures’ release of a signature franchise movie is set to explode the Dec. 19 weekend box office. Spider-Man: No Way Home has electrified pre-launch U.S. ticket sales and generated social media heat and critical praise (94% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes).

Fandango reported that pre-sales for No Way Home have already sold more tickets than the online ticket service has sold for the entire theatrical run of any 2021 release.

Can the follow-up to 2019’s $1.1 billion Spider-Man: Far From Home, also starring Tom Holland as the webslinger, justify the hype?

The studio reportedly is projecting a $130 million North American opening across almost 4,400 screens. With a record $43.6 million theatrical debut already reported across the United Kingdom, France, South Korea and Mexico, No Way Home could shatter lofty global expectations.

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Standing in its way: The pandemic and growing concerns over the Omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. With the ongoing politicization of government vaccine and mask mandates, theaters find themselves in a no-win position on the matter.

While Spider-Man wears a mask, myriad moviegoers don’t want to. When AMC Theatres — the nation’s largest exhibitor chain — last year mandated mask wearing, citing government restrictions, it was met with a fierce backlash on social media, including calls to boycott the chain. The chain quickly reversed policy, allowing patrons to voluntarily wear masks.

“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” CEO Adam Aron said at the time. “We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary.”

Another new release is the critically acclaimed Nightmare Alley, director Guillermo del Toro’s remake of the 1947 film noir that made Tyrone Power a star. Bradley Cooper reprises Power’s role as Stanton Carlise, a clever showman with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) who is even more dangerous than he is.

The movie is projected to generate a box office opening upwards of $5 million.

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