The Spider-pact is paying off. Spider-Man: Homecoming, the first solo film since Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios announced their deal to share Spidey in 2015, surpassed $300 million at the domestic box office yesterday. Worldwide, the picture looks even better, already amassing $682 million despite just opening in Japan today and not arriving in China until September 8.
This gives Spider-Man: Homecoming a great chance to be the first film in the franchise to earn over $800 million globally since Spider-Man 3 in 2007 ($890.9 million). To do so, Homecoming will need a big boost in China, but there’s a good chance it will receive just that. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 grabbed $94.4 million in China three years ago and the last four films featuring Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man earned an average of $114.2 million. Thus far in 2017, all live-action films based on Marvel or DC properties have averaged $99 million in China.
As friendly neighborhood reboots go, Spider-Man: Homecoming will outpace 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man. The domestic margin isn’t so great when accounting for inflation, but worldwide, Homecoming should end up over $40 million ahead of the reboot. The margin of improvement is much larger over the last Spider-film, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which webbed franchise lows of $208.9 ($216.6 million, adjusting for inflation) million domestic and $709 million worldwide.
Profitability is also way up considering both Amazing films cost well north of $200 million while Homecoming came in at a relatively affordable $175 million.
Spider-Man: Homecoming does not compare as favorably to the Sam Raimi trilogy. It is unlikely to surpass any of those films domestically, even without those films getting a bump for inflation, and will probably only beat Spider-Man 2’s worldwide total of $783.8 million. It could beat Spider-Man’s $821.7 million depending on its legs for the rest of August and whether or not it can perform better than the averages suggest in China.
Failing to equal the heights of the Raimi era is not a failure of the Spider-pact, however. First, let it be a reminder of just how successful those Raimi films were at a time when the international market was a small fraction of what it’s become over the past several years. Second, consider that Spider-Man: Homecoming had to overcome a couple of challenges none of those films had to deal with: following up on a disappointing previous installment and being the sixth film in the franchise (and seventh appearance of the main character) in 15 years.
No doubt Sony would love to have seen Spider-Man: Homecoming outgross every other film in the franchise, but the studio got what it needed most. Bringing in Marvel Studios to make the movie for them while also letting Spider-Man (Tom Holland) be introduced in the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe has given the franchise a successful rebound after The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Superhero films, even good ones, that follow disappointing efforts in their own franchise don’t always break the bank at the box office. As great as it is, Batman Begins drew a solid but unspectacular $374.2 million worldwide as the series’ first film after Batman and Robin nearly destroyed the entire operation. Batman Begins largely made a name for itself via home release and cable, reaching lapsed moviegoers who could not be compelled to come to a theater for a Batman movie no matter how good the word-of-mouth was. They’d been burned before and needed to see, without investing as much time or money, that the franchise had truly returned to form before committing to anything beyond what could be viewed from their couch.
All of those who passed on Batman Begins in theaters but caught up with it later were ready and waiting for The Dark Knight when it hit theaters three years later. The same thing could happen for the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming if the home release crowd digs it as much as the theatrical audiences who gave it an “A” CinemaScore. Because Homecoming has already done so well, however, the sequel won’t need to make a jump nearly as big as the one we saw between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
Had Sony not made a deal with Marvel Studios, there would not have been nearly as much reason for consumers to believe that a third Amazing Spider-Man film would be significantly better than the second. Sony Pictures may very well have been looking at new domestic and global box office lows. Instead, they’re looking at a franchise trending upward for the first time in almost a decade thanks to a film people like and off of which the studio can build.
As for Marvel Studios, the success of Spider-Man: Homecoming continues a trend that’s run with little interruption for nearly a decade and most of that time was spent without Marvel’s most popular character. A healthy Spider-Man franchise should mean a bright future for both members of the Spider-pact.