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Spider-Man: No Way Home first pandemic-era movie to earn $1 billion

Sony's comic-book epic has earned $1 billion globally in 12 days, tying with Star Wars: The Force Awakens as the third-fastest to reach the benchmark

Tom Holland and (right) Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’. Image via AP

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Spider-Man: No Way Home unwrapped the best Christmas gift of all, becoming the first pandemic-era movie to cross $1 billion at the global box office.

Sony's comic-book epic has eclipsed that milestone in a near-record 12 days, tying with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens as the third-fastest film to reach the billion-dollar benchmark. Only 2018's Avengers: Infinity War and 2019's Avengers: Endgame were quicker, smashing the coveted tally in 11 and five days, respectively.

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It's impressive that Spider-Man: No Way Home managed to blow past $1 billion in ticket sales worldwide given the rapidly spreading omicron variant of COVID-19. It makes Tom Holland's Marvel superhero adventure the only movie since 2019's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to surpass $1 billion globally. No other Hollywood film has come close to nearing those box office revenues in the last two years.

Prior to Spidey's reign, MGM's James Bond sequel No Time to Die, which grossed $774 million globally, stood as the highest-grossing Hollywood film of 2021 (and the pandemic). As the first movie to reach $1 billion worldwide, Spider-Man: No Way Home took the earthly throne from another box-office behemoth, China's The Battle at Lake Changjin ($902 million), to officially cement its place as the year's highest-grossing film worldwide. It's also notable that No Way Home surpassed that high-watermark without playing in China, which is currently the world's biggest moviegoing market.

At the domestic box office, Spider-Man: No Way Home had another dominating weekend, soaring high above the competition during a crowded Christmas corridor.

The newest Spider-Man adventure collected $81 million from 4,336 North American theaters over the weekend. To put that figure in perspective, only select COVID-era releases have managed to generate that kind of coinage in their entire theatrical runs, much less in their second weekend of release. 

It brings the film's ten-day total to a mammoth $467 million at the domestic box office. That tally is more than double the next highest-grossing movie in Disney and Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which earned a mighty $224 million domestically.

At the international box office, Spider-Man: No Way Home added $121.4 million over the weekend and has made $587 million to date, bringing its global revenues to $1.05 billion.

The Matrix Resurrections, the Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow's sci-fi sequel, landed with a thud in third place after Sing 2. The cerebral film landed significantly below expectations, scraping together $12 million from 3,552 cinemas over the weekend and $22.5 million since Wednesday. The fourth installment in the seminal series, like Warner Bros. entire 2021 slate, is available simultaneously on HBO Max, though the company didn't provide digital viewership metrics.

Lana Wachowski returned to direct The Matrix Resurrections, which stars Keanu Reeves as the sleek cybercriminal Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity. The $200 million-budgeted tentpole has gotten mixed reviews (it has a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a "B-" CinemaScore), which may not move the needle for ticket sales while it's playing simultaneously on a streaming service at no extra charge.

"Right now, if you're under 35 and going to the movies, your first choice is Spider-Man, and your second choice is seeing Spider-Man again," says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. "You can watch The Matrix later with someone who has HBO. That's how it is when a single movie is dominating the market the way Spider-Man is."

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