Spider-Man is bringing great power to the 2021 box office.
The highly anticipated Marvel film Spider-Man: No Way Home grossed a huge $50 million on Thursday, the third best preview night for any film in history, Deadline and Variety report. The only movies to have made more in previews are 2019's Avengers: Endgame and 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, though Deadline notes it helps that Spider-Man's preview screenings started a few hours earlier than usual at 3:00 p.m.
Still, No Way Home is expected to gross between $150 million and $180 million this weekend, Variety reports, though some think it could even go above $200 million. This would quite easily set the record for biggest opening weekend since the COVID-19 pandemic began, which currently belongs to Venom: Let There Be Carnage with $90 million. To put this in perspective, no movie of the COVID-19 pandemic has made $100 million in its opening weekend, and according to Deadline, No Way Home could make that much just in its opening day alone, despite ongoing concerns about the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
"This is a monumental debut," Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian told CNBC.
No Way Home was one of the most highly anticipated films of the year after months of online rumors surrounding which fan favorite characters from past Spider-Man films would return. Its massive success is set to cap off a year in which numerous tentpole action films performed well at the box office during the pandemic, while more adult-focused dramas had a harder time. Last weekend, for example, Steven Spielberg's acclaimed West Side Story film struggled with an opening of just $10.5 million.