'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse' scores bigger opening than expected

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

With help from Spider-Man, animated films are crushing it at the 2023 box office.

"Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" swung to a bigger opening weekend at the box office than expected, scoring a spectacular $120.5 million debut domestically.

That marks the second-biggest opening of the year after "The Super Mario Bros. Movie." It's among the biggest openings ever for an animated film and the third-biggest for the "Spider-Man" franchise after 2021's "Spider-Man: No Way Home" and 2007's "Spider-Man 3." It's also the biggest opening of the summer movie season so far, above the $118.4 million debut of "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3."

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"Across the Spider-Verse" far exceeded its predecessor's opening, as "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" debuted to just $35 million in 2018. This is another example of a film building buzz in the years after its release so that its sequel is far more of a box office smash than the original. "Into the Spider-Verse" went on to win the Oscar for best animated film and has often been called the greatest superhero movie of all time, including by "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" director James Gunn.

The success of "Across the Spider-Verse" continues a surprisingly strong year for animation. "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" stands as the highest-grossing film of 2023 and has a strong chance of keeping that title through the end of the year, while "Across the Spider-Verse" could become the surprise winner of the summer box office battle domestically. One open question, though, is whether "Across the Spider-Verse" ending with a cliffhanger that sets up the next chapter could somewhat discourage repeat viewings throughout the summer.

On the other hand, the anticipation the film builds suggests the box office sky's the limit for its follow-up, "Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse," which hits theaters in March 2024.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.