Dread them, run from them or await them with rapt attention — superhero movies arrive all the same. In recent years, the year’s biggest grossing superhero movie was often the biggest movie, period. And now, Spider-Man: No Way Home has emerged as the first billion-dollar movie since the start of the pandemic, tangling $1.5 billion in its webs.
So how did Spider-Man weave his way to starring in the first billion-dollar movie?
Movie theaters turned into ghost towns at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even after movie theaters reopened, many patrons remained wary, with thin crowds 2020 and 2021. In 2019, the domestic box office topped $11 billion. In 2020, it sank below $2.5 billion, rising to $4.4 billion in 2021.
Rather than theaters, in 2020 and 2021, movie studios focused on reeling in subscribers for their streaming programs, such as HBO Max and Disney Plus. Often, new releases hit streaming services at the same time or shortly after reaching the silver screen. Spider-Man is enjoying a more traditional theater-first release as movie studios and theaters look to get back to big, lucrative box office hits.
Add now folks are looking for ways to entertain again, with less money to spend, going to a movie is a great way to explore. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that consumer spending increased by .5 and .4 percent in October and November, respectively, but those numbers are changing quickly. In 2022, with less money to spend, some consumers are moving back to theaters for an escape.
And with easing social distancing measures and restrictions being lifted, many people are getting back to some semblance of normal life. Given everything that’s going on, many of us could use a hero. Fortunately, superhero movies usually feature at least one lionheart who’ll stand up for the little guy and the world at large too.
Image by Jeff Jacobs