What ‘Spider-Man’s Awful 73% Friday-to-Friday Plummet Means For Sony, Marvel, And Superhero Films – Forbes
Spider-Man: Homecoming’s debut weekend last week seemed to be cause for celebration for both Sony Pictures, which owns the rights to the Spider-Man franchise, and for Marvel, which got to welcome its long-lost brother superhero back into its Cinematic Universe. The film was extremely well reviewed with a 93 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating, and well attended, with a $117 million domestic gross, the best 3-day opening for a Spidey flick since Spider-Man 3’s stunning $151 million debut a decade ago.
But things quickly turned sour for the Sony-Marvel co-pro yesterday when the grosses fell off a cliff, tumbling 73.2 percent from the first Friday’s $50.8 million tally to an estimated $13.6 million on the second. That’s one of the worst Friday-to-Friday drops the 16-movie Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever seen—only Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War fared worse—and it’s by far the worst for any of Sony’s 6 Spider-Man movies. Even the heavily front-loaded and relatively poorly reviewed Spider-Man 3 fell by a lesser margin on its second Friday.
If I’m an exec at Sony or Marvel I’m nursing a pretty nasty hangover right now, and doing a post-mortem analysis to figure out what went wrong. No one can fault the quality of the movie—although I personally found Tom Holland’s Peter Parker a bit over-eager and even screechy at times—it didn’t detract much from the fresh and enjoyable new take on the character and his story, a genuinely warm, human and humorous re-booting of a franchise that was in danger of growing stale.
And Sony’s marketing team did a fine job of creating massive awareness, framing the premise in an accurate and engaging fashion, and getting plenty of butts into seats over the first 3-days. Even with its big 4,348 screen wide-release, lots of theaters reported sold-out auditoriums last weekend.
What the numbers may be indicating is that the quality of the film was less important than the audience’s inertia about and even resistance to going out for yet another Spider-Man movie. The best made and marketed movie in the world isn’t going to attract ticket buyers if they’ve grown indifferent to what feels like the same old thing all over again. That’s happened in the past several months with the Pirates of the Caribbean, Alien, Cars, Despicable Me, and The Mummy franchises. If it’s not enough to stick Tom Cruise, one of Hollywood’s few remaining superstars, into a picture that feels like a warmed-over version of what we’ve already seen before, then there’s probably not much else that can be done to generate excitement for an aging franchise.
It’s notable that the three biggest Friday-to-Friday drops in Marvel’s 9-year-old MCU franchise history have all come within the past two years. That looks like a sign of change, that superhero movies have maxed out their welcome and that audiences are becoming far pickier about what they’ll spend their time and money on. Marvel’s characters have fared better lately in original new franchises, like Guardians of the Galaxy and the Fox-owned Deadpool. The same can be said for Warner-DC’s Wonder Woman. As the old Hollywood maxim goes, moviegoers may be telling the studios “give me the same thing but different.”