Box Office: ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home‘ Lacks ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Key Advantage
In news I missed a few days ago, Paramount/Viacom has moved Dora and the Lost City of Gold (a live-action Dora the Explorer movie) has moved to Wednesday, July 31 to avoid a head-on smackdown against Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw which is expected to dominate August starting on August 2. It may not mean much for the Dora the Explorer movie (Show us Benicio Del Toro’s sexy Swiper, you cowards!), but it highlights an interesting conundrum for what is expected to be July’s biggest live-action release. I’m speaking of, presuming we’re not counting The Lion King as live-action (and to be fair, Disney hasn’t really been using that term either), Sony’s Spider-Man: Far from Home.
Sony’s Spidey sequel, which will unofficially kick off Marvel’s Phase Four and take place right after Avengers: Endgame, opens July 5. The Jon Watts-directed Peter Parker story pits Peter Parker against p… I give up, pits Peter Parker against various elemental baddies and (depending on whose side he’s on) Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio. But the biggest obstacle Tom Holland and friends will be two-fold. First, he won’t have Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark palling around this time out (although Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury will be subbing as the newest grouchy mentor). Second, far from Home will lack the biggest advantage that Homecoming had, namely a relative lack of kid-friendly biggies after its release.
Spider-Man: Homecoming opened in early July of 2017 with $117 million but then took a record (for the MCU) 62% second-weekend drop. But like any number of late 1990s or early 2000s Adam Sandler comedies (which tended to sink hard in weekend two and rebound over the next month), Homecoming got its wind back after that tenth day and eventually legged it to $334 million domestic, or a solid 2.854x weekend-to-final domestic multiplier. Oh, and it grossed $881 million worldwide on a $175 million budget, so it had that going for it too. There are two reasons why it recovered after its second weekend. First, my own issues with the movie notwithstanding, it was a crowd-pleasing and well-liked Spidey adventure.
Second, and this turned out be key, it was the only “big” live-action kid flick from July to November. After Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets crashed in mid-July, it was pretty clear sailing for the MCU Spider-Man adventure. From Spider-Man: Homecoming in early July to Thor: Ragnarok in early November, the vast majority of “big” movies were adult-skewing and/or R-rated. If you had kids and you wanted to take them to a live-action flick, it was Homecoming, another trip for Wonder Woman and, uh… that’s it. The likes of Atomic Blonde, Girls Trip, Dunkirk, The Dark Tower, Annabelle: Creation, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, It, Kingsman: The Golden Circle and Blade Runner 2049 were adult-skewing fare.
Yes, there were animated flicks like My Little Pony (later remade as Thor: Ragnarok) and The Emoji Movie (later remade as Ralph Breaks the Internet), but it was an oddly adult-skewing end-of-Summer/beginning-of-Fall season at the multiplexes. It’s not a one-to-one comparison, but remember how Walt Disney’s Frozen legged it to $400 million domestic from a $93 million Wednesday-to-Sunday debut partially because it was only big animated flick from Thanksgiving weekend to The LEGO Movie 2 in early February while even the live-action stuff (Saving Mr. Banks, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Lone Survivor, etc.) was mostly adult-skewing. When you’re the only game in town, you’re the only game in town.
Spider-Man: Far from Home will open two weeks after Toy Story 4 and two weeks before The Lion King. It’ll get only 3.5 weeks before Dora and the Lost City of Gold. An oddly crowded August will see Far from Home squaring off against New Mutants, Hobbs and Shaw, Angry Birds 2, Artemis Fowl, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Play Mobil. Now even if some of these don’t break out, and some of them absolutely will not, the sheer amount of competition in Far from Home’s first six weeks of domestic release is a lot tougher than what Homecoming faced. As such, Spider-Man: Far from Home will lack both Iron Man and comparatively safe passage.
Homecoming earned 85% of its $334 million cume by its 28th day. It may be mostly done by the time Hobbs and Shaw opens. If Sony kept the budget close to the last film’s, it can afford to earn much less and still be a solid hit. A “mere” $700 million gross (less than even Amazing Spider-Man 2) would be four times Homecoming’s $175 million budget. If Far from Home doesn’t get an Avengers: Endgame bounce, and it might (Ant-Man and the Wasp earned 19% more than Ant-Man) or a boost from the popularity of Venom and Into the Spider-Verse, it’ll be less about the franchise itself and more about the deluge of kid-friendly competition that will close out the summer.