Spider-Man: Far From Home swung wildly beyond box-office expectations to web up an estimated $185 million in its first six days of release, proving immune to so-called "franchise fatigue" and reinvigorating a summer box-office some feared was midway through an alarming slump.
The jaw-dropping holiday haul for Marvel’s first post-Avengers: Endgame entry—blowing past even the most generous of analyst predictions, which tended to fall between $125-150 million—set a new six-day record at the Fourth of July box office, dethroning another friendly neighborhood blockbuster: 2004’s Spider-Man 2.
For this “third second Spider-Man” (don’t forget 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2) to set off such spectacular fireworks in its first days of release is yet another show of the synergized strength Marvel has accrued through its juggernaut cinematic universe, now entering a new era after Endgame explosively wound down storylines involving some of its flagship characters, including Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America.
Some had questioned whether audience appetite for superheroics would be tamped down with the climactic, three-hour Endgame having hit theaters just over two months ago, but Spider-Man: Far From Home’s over-performance proves that’s far from the case. Globally, the film’s fast closing in on the $600 million mark, and it seems possible that the movie could cross the $1 billion mark before it’s out of theaters, flanking Transformers: Dark of the Moon (the only blockbuster to have earned more than Far From Home over the Independence Day weekend, back in 2011).
ComScore Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian, who predicted an over-performance for Spider-Man: Far From Home, fully believes the film will cross $1 billion.
“It's well on its way,” he tells Fortune. “You get to $580 million in 10 days, we've seen that sometimes it can be tricky to get the rest of the way, but this is a billion-dollar movie."
Spider-Man: Far From Home’s success also takes a massive bite out of the much bandied-around narrative that the summer box-office has slumped, brought on by widespread franchise fatigue.
Dergarabedian has been disputing that concept. He notes that the distance between this summer’s box office and last year’s shrinks considerably when analysts reevaluate what they consider to be the start of summer, as he believes the Marvel machine has made necessary.
Last year’s Avengers: Infinity War and this year’s Avengers: Endgame both opened in April, ahead of the season’s official kick-off in May. When both of those films are viewed as the starting line, this summer’s box office is about on par with last year’s. Endgame, says Dergarabedian, has a lot to do with Spider-Man’s success.
“It had a perfect lead-in with both Avengers: Endgame, and its $2 billion worldwide gross, but also that movie’s bring-back event, which really paid it forward in a sense,” says the analyst. “Even though Endgame is a Disney movie, it’s still true that Spider-Man, even being Sony, is a part of the Marvel family. It was a great way to tee it up."
Another factor aiding the film was the social-media caché of stars Tom Holland, as Spider-Man, and Zendaya, as love interest MJ.
“If you look at their Twitter followings, she's got 15.6 million followers, and he's got a ‘mere’ 4,” says Dergarabedian. “They both are such appealing stars and Tom Holland particularly is a phenomenal Spider-Man. Likable, believable, charismatic, charming, all the things you want in your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. And then there's the chemistry between Zendaya and Tom Holland and you have to remember this is a teen story, so you’re getting audiences that are younger."
Dergarabedian felt secure in his prediction of a mighty haul for Spider-Man: Far From Home despite recent sequel disappointments like Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Men In Black: International, and Dark Phoenix.
“The rumors of the demise of this summer’s box office are greatly exaggerated,” Dergarabedian previously told Fortune ahead of the July 4 holiday. “When there are high-profile films that underperform or don’t meet expectations, then suddenly that becomes the new narrative. But then you have a bunch of sequels like Toy Story 4, Annabelle Comes Home, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and The Lion King, that are all franchise films that have or will knock it out of the park.”
The “doom and gloom” talk, Dergarabedian says, comes up with some frequency in Hollywood—and he understands why, given how much money investors sink into summer tentpoles. But he predicts that Spider-Man: Far From Home will restore some balance to the box office while signaling some clear lessons to studio executives.
“Because the competition out there for the entertainment dollar is massive, everything just has to be at a higher level,” he says. “If a movie gets a low Rotten Tomatoes score, that’s going to hurt. That’s going to impact that film’s box office.”
Spider-Man: Far From Home has benefitted from strong reviews and audience exit scores. "It's not franchise fatigue," says Dergarabedian. "It's bad movie fatigue."
In terms of Spider-Man, that may have made all the difference. “The number one most important thing is the movie itself,” he adds. “Reviews matter. Audience sentiment matters. No matter how big your brand, if you don’t put it all up there on the screen, you’re not gonna have the kind of success you might expect.”
He's looking ahead to The Lion King and Hobbs & Shaw, two massive summer tentpoles that he’s predicting will similarly work magic at the box office, further deflating the notion that this summer’s grosses will constitute a disappointment for Hollywood when the dust settles and autumn leaves begin to fall.
Dergarabedian is predicting one of the biggest Julys ever in Hollywood—especially with Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on the way. Later in the month, there will be more diverse genres represented at the box office, and he believes audiences will respond to that by turning out in droves. "It's just the ups and downs of the box office," he says of the summer so far. "I think a little perspective is in order."
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