MPAA Takes a Break for New Year, Spider-Man Swings to Over $1 Billion

By Chris Kavan - 12/29/21 at 11:43 AM CT

Here we are at the precipice of another year. Many are getting a much-needed break, including those hard-working folks over at the MPAA, so we don't get any updates this week. That's fine, as the box office still has plenty to offer, including the opening of five new films - all of which were overshadowed by the dominating and continued eye-popping success of Spider-Man: No Way Home. As we ring in the New Year, it looks as though Spider-Man will easily swing away with another box office win as there are no wide releases for the holiday frame and just one new film - the action-packed, girl-power of The 355, set for the week after.

How big is Spider-Man: No Way Home? With an $84.5 million weekend, it made more than every other new release combined. That netted it a $470.3 million domestic total - double the next closest competitor of 2021 (Shang-Chi) and it crossed the $1 billion mark world-wide - the only film of the pandemic era to hit that major milestone. In more impressive fashion, it made it to that mark in just 12 days, a near-record time with only Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame beating it to the punch. And its current $1.05 billion doesn't even include China. Not even the Omicron variant of COVID-19 seems to be able to put a damper on this and with almost no competition to speak of through January (Morbius, maybe - but that doesn't hit until the 28th), No Way Home looks to have clear sailing well into 2022.

With Spider-Man cleaning up at the box office, that left the five newcomers scrambling for the next-biggest piece of the pie. Coming out on top of the scrum was Sing 2. The animated sequel starring Matthew McConaughey, Reece Witherspoon, Taron Egerton, Scarlett Johansson, Tori Kelly, Nick Kroll, Bobby Cannavale, Halsey and Bono - among others - hit enough right notes with critics (67% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and scored even better among the certainly kid-packed audiences (a rare "A+" Cinemascore) to top out at $22.3 million for the weekend - and just under $40 million for the holiday frame. Sure, it's under the $54.9 million debut for the first Sing, but most sequels fall short of the original and hopefully with school out this continues to draw in those family crowds. With international numbers of $24.8 million, the worldwide total stands at $65 million.

Another franchise reboot in the form of The Matrix Resurrections came in third with a softer-than-expected $12 million - rising to $22.5 million for the long holiday period. Lana Wachowski's return, along with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss and plenty of new faces like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, Jessica Henwick, Neil Patrick Harris, Jada Pinkett Smith, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Christina Ricci - was also streaming on HBO Max. Early numbers indicate the film wasn't exactly burning up the streaming charts, coming in behind Godzilla vs. Kong. I can't say the results surprise me as I'm a bit reluctant after what The Matrix Revolutions did to me. Critics liked this one enough with a 65% Fresh while audiences were not as impressed, giving it a middling "B-" Cinemascore. It did a bit better overseas, where it enjoyed a $47.3 total, actually putting it ahead of Sing 2 with just under $70 million.

Speaking of franchises, here's another as Matthew Vaughn takes us on a trip back in time to the early 20th century where we revisit The King's Man. Ralph Fiennes takes on the roles of the original dapper hero, with Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans (as Rasputin), Harris Dickinson, Djimon Hounsou, Charles Dance and Daniel Brühl along for the ride. I feel this series has brought diminishing returns, but it has always been entertaining as well. With $5.9 million - and just under $10 million for the Christmas frame - it seems like the series is winding down. This one had the lowest critical reception at 42% Rotten but people who saw it seemed to think it was pretty good with a "B+" Cinemascore.

Rounding out the top five is the inspirational story of American Underdog. This follows the surprising rise of Kurt Warner (Zachary Levi) from stocking shelves at a local store to rising to and NFL MVP and Hall of Fame Quarterback. While the film stays tried and true to the formula - it seems that was just fine with audiences and critics where it sits at 75% Fresh and another impeccable "A+" CInemascore. It took in $5.89 million with no early opening.

Outside the top five we find Journal for Jordon, Denzel Washington's drama about a soldier in Baghdad (Michael B. Jordan) who pens a journal for his unborn son in case he doesn't get back home. The emotional journey opened to $2.2 million in 7th place.

Also of note, after blowing up the charts in limited release for a few weeks,
Paul Thomas Anderson's Licorice Pizza opened nationwide in 782 theaters, jumping from 14th to 8th place with $1.9 million.

That's all for 2021 - here's hoping we can continue our return to normalcy in 2022. Have a safe and happy New Year out there!

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