Weekend Box Office Predictions: December 17 – December 19, 2021

Weekend box office predictions are provided by Daniel Garris, courtesy of BoxOfficeReport.com.

Weekend Box Office Predictions:

Sony’s very highly anticipated Spider-Man: No Way Home makes its way to theatres this weekend. The latest Spider-Man and MCU film was directed by Jon Watts and stars Tom Holland, Zendaya and Benedict Cumberbatch (among others). Thanks in part to the added presence of Doctor Strange, questions as to what direction the film would help the MCU take going forward and the immense buzz around just who would and wouldn’t be included in the film, Spider-Man: No Way Home is obviously the most anticipated new release since the re-opening of domestic theatres. That anticipation has transferred into tremendous pre-sales; and earlier today Fandango announced that Spider-Man: No Way Home is already the year’s biggest seller on Fandango (accounting for all sales, not just opening weekend). With inflation adjustments in mind, overall anticipation for Spider-Man: No Way Home feels closer to the anticipation levels of 2002’s Spider-Man and 2004’s Spider-Man 2 than any other Spider-Man film has been able to reach beyond 2004.

Spider-Man: No Way Home opens exclusively in theatres this weekend (in 4,336 locations), will be playing on IMAX screens and will also have Thursday preview shows beginning at 3PM. The film’s early preview start time will no doubt further help Spider-Man: No Way Home deliver one of the largest preview grosses of all-time; as will the demand for many fans to see the film as quickly as possible in order to avoid potential spoilers. On top of everything else, critical reviews for Spider-Man: No Way Home have been exceptional. While the current theatrical environment will still place some pressure on Spider-Man: No Way Home from potentially breaking out even further this weekend, it appears clear that Spider-Man: No Way Home is not only set to demolish the $90.03 million debut of fellow Sony release Venom: Let There Be Carnage to register the largest opening weekend since re-opening, but is also in store to register one of the largest opening weekend performances of all-time (regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic). BoxOfficeReport is predicting that Spider-Man: No Way Home will debut with a massive $210.0 million this weekend, which would give the film a per-location average of $48,432 for the frame and would represent the fifth largest unadjusted opening weekend of all-time.

Meanwhile, Disney’s Encanto looks to be the only major holdover likely to be largely unaffected by Spider-Man: No Way Home this weekend. Last weekend Encanto declined just 24 percent to take second place with $9.985 million and the film’s midweek holds have continued to be very strong this week. Encanto is also holding onto its locations and showtimes nicely this weekend and could also get a boost from family audiences who want to catch the film in theatres before Universal’s anticipated Sing 2 enters the marketplace this coming Wednesday (December 22) and before Encanto also becomes available via streaming on Disney+ on Christmas Eve (December 24). Look for Encanto to decline a slim 23 percent this weekend to remain in second with $7.7 million.

Disney and 20th Century’s West Side Story is coming off of a first place debut of $10.57 million, which was on the low end of already relatively modest expectations. Critical reviews for West Side Story have been very strong and the film looks to be going over very well with audiences as well, given its strong A rating on CinemaScore and promising initial daily holds. However, with regard to this weekend, it will still be difficult for West Side Story to avoid a sizable second weekend decline due in large part to the film experiencing a significant showtimes decrease from last weekend (including losing its IMAX screens) due to Spider-Man: No Way Home entering the marketplace. West Side Story could decline two spots and 53 percent from last weekend to land in third place with $5.0 million, before likely stabilizing throughout the holidays.

The weekend’s other new wide release is Disney and Searchlight’s Nightmare Alley. The Guillermo del Toro directed thriller features an ensemble cast that includes Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara and Ron Perlman. Nightmare Alley is opening exclusively in theatres this weekend (in 2,145 locations) and will have Thursday preview shows beginning at 6PM. Opening Nightmare Alley in wide release the same weekend as Spider-Man: No Way Home feels somewhat puzzling, but the hope is for the film to get a jump on the other alternatives this holiday season to Spider-Man: No Way Home. On the average, critical reviews for Nightmare Alley have been good, but not as strong as many had been expecting. Opening weekend potential for Nightmare Alley will also be held back this weekend by the film looking to play on only one screen at most theatres. BoxOfficeReport is predicting a modest fourth place debut of $4.0 million for Nightmare Alley this weekend (before potentially holding up well throughout the holidays).

As for some of this weekend’s other higher profile holdovers, look for significant declines in the face of Spider-Man: No Way Home (and significant location count losses). Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife could decline 46 percent to claim fifth with $3.8 million, United Artists Releasing and MGM’s House of Gucci could fall 56 percent to take sixth with $1.8 million and Disney’s Eternals could decrease 52 percent to follow in seventh with $1.5 million.

Read full predictions on BoxOfficeReport.com

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