This weekend’s box office was supposed to be the heavyweight match between Spider-Man: Homecoming and War of the Planet of the Apes, with the latter serving as the underdog in this scenario. Could War, even with its Fresh rating on RottenTomatoes, possibly compete with the second weekend of Homecoming, the similarly well-reviewed superhero movie which neared franchise highs in its opening weekend? It’s the rumble in Queens versus the rumble with the apes? Let’s get ready to…
And War just knocked Homecoming out in the first round.
Yeaaaaaaaaaaah, this wasn’t even close. War easily won the weekend with a somewhat subdued $56m opening compared to Homecoming‘s $45.2m.
There are two stories to write about here:
- Why didn’t War, one of the best-reviewed films of the summer, have a bigger opening? That $56m is considerably lower than the $72m Dawn of the Planet of the Apes made over the same weekend three years ago, and barely better than the $54m Rise of the Planet of the Apes enjoyed six years ago (and all of that before adjusting for inflation).
- Why did Homecoming just post the biggest second-weekend drop (-61.3%) in Marvel Cinematic Universe history?
The answer to both might be the level of competition: War and Homecoming simply cannibalized each other. Moreover, neither film could have expected Wonder Woman to still be around, adding just south of $7m this weekend to its now-$380m domestic gross, or for Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver to be making an impressive run at $100m domestic (Wright’s 4 prior films combined only made $93m). Also, franchise fatigue has been a real beast this summer, and War and Homecoming might just be feeling that a bit.
Either way, Homecoming now finds itself in a strange position, possibly set-up for a domestic run just as front-loaded as Spidey franchise-enders Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. As Forbes’ Scott Mendelson explained:
Barring some catch-up legs over the next month (and that’s not remotely out of the question), [Homecoming‘s] looking at an identical multiplier to Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($202 million/$91m) and Spider-Man 3 ($336m/$151m).
The obvious difference is that people actually like Homecoming (an A on CinemaScore) whereas, um, not so much with ASM2 (B+ CinemaScore) and Spider-Man 3 (also a B+, which is pretty much a failing grade for superhero movies on CinemaScore). That more positive reaction might not have translated to a strong second weekend for Homecoming, but it has done enough to restore faith in the franchise and whet the appetite for further adventures with this particular iteration of Peter Parker, Aunt May, “MJ” and the rest.
Of course, after this second-weekend bump in the road Homecoming could very easily rebound and prove to be leggier than expected. However, as of this writing it’s on pace to end up with a domestic gross similar to Amazing Spider-Man 1′s $262m. It will have done so while costing nearly $50m less to make but far more to advertise, meaning the exact amount of cost-saving is unclear. Thankfully, as per usual these days with most Hollywood blockbusters Homecoming is thriving overseas, racking up $261.1m in foreign gross for a 10-day global take of $469.4m. And all of that before it has opened in China!
So, what does this all mean? Exactly how alarmed should we be? Because when you start getting compared to ASM 2 and Spider-Man 3 it sets off some pretty significant alarm bells.
Yeah, hold off on that for another week or two. The first Guardians of the Galaxy also had a bigger-than-expected second-weekend drop, and it rebounded to dominate the following two months of box office. That’s still a possibility for Homecoming, and even if that doesn’t happen Homecoming will likely still be considered a success because of the more positive reaction. This was always chiefly about Sony and Marvel working together to stop the bleeding and reverse the trend of each new Spider-Man movie grossing less than the last one. Well, Homecoming‘s sitting at $208m domestic after 10 days meaning it has already surpassed ASM 2‘s entire run ($202m), and it has done it while also earning plenty of good will and selling loads of toys.
Still would have expected a better second weekend, but blame War and Baby Driver and Wonder Woman and The Big Sick and the sudden influx of worthwhile movies to see. Blame the lingering resentment toward Amazing Spider-Man 2 or the inescapable fact that this is the 7th Spider-Man in the last 15 years and 2nd franchise reboot of the last 5. But don’t worry too much about it. Homecoming, Sony and Marvel will be just fine.