Spectacular Spidey swings past franchise fatigue

People | ASSOCIATED PRESS 9 Jul 2019

It pays to have one of the biggest lead-ins ever.

Spider-Man: Far From Home, the first Marvel movie after Avengers: Endgame, swung past any franchise fatigue to dominate the US July Fourth holiday weekend, raking in an estimated US$185.1 million (HK$1.44 billion) since opening last Tuesday.

The opening gave Sony Pictures one of its best weeks ever.

Far From Home, which opened overseas before landing in the United States, has grossed US$580 million worldwide in 10 days of release.

It also came with an assist from Disney's Marvel Studios, which has partnered with Sony on this and its last two Spider-Man releases: 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming and last year's animated spinoff Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Though Far From Home fell short of the US$117 million Friday to Sunday domestic opening of Homecoming, its unconventional Tuesday opening paid off.

The film's US$39.3 million opening day set a record for any movie on a Tuesday.

To help whet Marvel fans' appetites - and to approach the record US$2.79 billion gross of Avatar - Disney rereleased Endgame in theaters the weekend ahead of Far From Home.

Part of the draw of the film - starring Tom Holland as Spider-Man and Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio - was seeing the first installment in a new chapter of the Marvel cinematic universe. (Endgame still narrowly trails Avatar, unadjusted for inflation, with US$2.77 billion).

Due in part to some underperforming sequels, including Godzilla: King of Monsters, and Men in Black International, the year is running 8.4 percent behind last year. But Marvel has been immune to the ups and downs of sequel making.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore, thinks Far From Home may have turned the tide.

"This movie was exactly the shot in the arm the summer needed, emotionally and spiritually if not financially,'' said Dergarabedian.

"The whole notion of franchise fatigue, while true in some cases, is not in all. When movies aren't great, that's when people get fatigued.''

Perhaps just as cheering for the industry is how well a number of films are holding.

After two weeks atop the box office, Toy Story 4 slid a modest 43 percent to second place, with US$34.3 million. It has now taken in US$650 million globally.

Universal Pictures' Beatles-themed romantic comedy Yesterday dropped only 37 percent in its second weekend, with US$10.8 million.

The Conjuring spinoff sequel Annabelle Comes Home snagged US$10.8 million in its second weekend. And Disney's Aladdin, with US$7.6 million in its seventh week of release, has accumulated US$921.7 million worldwide.

Just behind those films was Ari Aster's sun-dappled horror tale Midsommar, starring Florence Pugh, drawing US$6.6 million over the weekend and US$10.9 million since opening on Wednesday. The debut was well shy of the US$13.6 million opening of Aster's first-feature sensation Hereditary, starring Toni Collette, which became A24's highest grossing film, with US$79.3 million worldwide.

A24 nevertheless hailed the results for Midsommar, saying "it firmly cements Aster as one of the most exciting new directors to come around in a long while.''

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