Christmas Box Office Forecast (Updated): Spider-Man: No Way Home Aims for Possible $90M+ 2nd Frame as Sing 2 Tracks to Upset The Matrix Resurrections in Debuts

Photo Credits: Sony & Marvel Studios ("Spider-Man: No Way Home"); Universal & Illumination ("Sing 2"); Warner Bros. ("The Matrix Resurrections"); 20th Century Studios ("The King's Man"); Lionsgate ("American Underdog"); Sony Pictures / Columbia ("A Journal for Jordan")

Thursday Update / Final Forecast: As daily box office, location counts, and preliminary opener numbers come into view for weekday performances, we’re getting a somewhat clearer picture of how the weekend could shape up — although, trajectories remain somewhat volatile given the holiday corridor. It’s been 11 years since Christmas last fell on a Saturday and, even before pandemic considerations, moviegoing habits have evolved since then.

Still, Spider-Man: No Way Home remains the clear favorite to repeat atop the box office this weekend. With $356.5 million earned domestically through Wednesday, the blockbuster still has a solid chance to clear $90 million this weekend. We’ve slightly lowered expected ranges for that film and others below in our final forecasts before the standard three-day weekend.

Among openers, we’re considerably more conservative on how The Matrix Resurrections and The King’s Man will pan out than once before. Sing 2 remains incredibly fluid given the target family audience and expected Christmas boost, as well as the lack of clarity regarding whether or not the film’s $1.6 million Early Access grosses from last month will be included as part of a single day or spread out across each day in its five-day opening.

Final forecasts ahead of the weekend:

Wide Release Forecast Ranges

Spider-Man: No Way Home
2nd Weekend Range: $80 – 110 million

The King’s Man
Opening 3-Day Weekend Range: $5 – 10 million
Opening 5-Day Weekend Range: $8.5 – 17 million

The Matrix Resurrections
Opening 3-Day Weekend Range: $14 – 19 million
Opening 5-Day Weekend Range: $24 – 35 million

Sing 2
Opening 3-Day Weekend Range: $28 – 35 million
Opening 5-Day Weekend Range: $40 – 55 million

American Underdog
Opening 2-Day Weekend Range: $5 – 10 million

A Journal for Jordan
Opening 2-Day Weekend Range: $1 – 3 million

Weekend Forecast

Boxoffice projects between a 35 to 45 percent decrease for this weekend’s top ten films from last weekend’s $281.7 million top ten aggregate. That would also represent between a 1 to 16 percent decrease from the same weekend in 2019, which generated $186.8 million during the second frame of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, December 26 Location Count (Fri 12/24 % Change from Last Wknd
Spider-Man: No Way Home Sony Pictures / Columbia / Marvel Studios $93,600,000 $480,400,000 4,336 -64%
Sing 2 Universal Pictures $32,900,000 $50,100,000 3,892 NEW
The Matrix Resurrections Warner Bros. Pictures $16,300,000 $28,200,000 3,552 NEW
American Underdog Lionsgate / Kingdom Story Company $6,900,000 $6,900,000 2,813 NEW
The King’s Man Disney / 20th Century Studios $6,100,000 $10,200,000 3,180 NEW
Encanto Walt Disney Pictures $4,200,000 $90,600,000 2,800 -35%
Licorice Pizza United Artists Releasing $3,600,000 $4,900,000 786 +4,031%
West Side Story (2021) Disney / 20th Century Studios $2,800,000 $23,900,000 2,810 -24%
Ghostbusters: Afterlife Sony Pictures / Columbia $1,700,000 $121,200,000 1,728 -49%
A Journal for Jordan Sony Pictures / Columbia $1,600,000 $1,600,000 2,500 NEW

Tuesday Report: Fresh off the historic $260.1 million opening of Spider-Man: No Way Home, the holiday corridor is in full swing with five new wide releases hitting domestic cinemas this week. The battle is on for second place between The Matrix Resurrections and Sing 2, with our expectations favoring the latter to land in the second place spot.

The underlying caveat to all forecasts this weekend is the obvious reality that the market hasn’t been this crowded in one fell swoop since before the pandemic. Does the rising tide of the Spider-Man behemoth lift all (or, at least, some) boats during the first somewhat normal Christmas weekend for cinemas in two years?

That’s the question for which there are no tried and true models to answer with right now. A tug of war remains between the Omicron variant’s dominance over headlines versus pent-up demand to safely return to cinemas with loved ones during holiday vacations.

The runaway candidate to retain first place at the box office will, of course, be Sony and Marvel Studios’ web-slinging crossover event after posting the second biggest debut in history. Just how much of that audience it will retain becomes a tricky question to answer with a handful of new releases entering the market, Christmas Eve landing on a Friday this year, and ever-present caution surrounding COVID-19.

No Way Home‘s daily trajectory has so far shown minimal sign of pandemic-exacerbated front-loading despite the massive fan turnout last Thursday, Friday, and beyond. Phenomenal word of mouth and work/school vacations are propelling it to strong weekday business so far, a trend that should persist through this weekend and next thanks to Christmas and New Year’s.

As the movie continues to roll past all pandemic era box office standards and rival pre-COVID ones, we look to the past for an idea of how its sophomore frame could pan out.

The best second weekend ever belongs to Star Wars: The Force Awakens with its $149.2 million in December 2015. Christmas landed on a Friday that year, though, whereas Christmas Eve will deflate Spidey’s business in this case. That also means Avengers: Endgame‘s $147.4 million runner-up best second frame is probably out of reach.

More realistically, though, finishing north of $100 million this weekend looks increasingly probable. Only six films in history have achieved that: the aforementioned Force Awakens and Endgame, plus Avengers: Infinity War ($114.8 million), Black Panther ($111.7 million), Jurassic World ($106.6 million), and The Avengers ($103.1 million).

The latter four targets are within reach for No Way Home, although the film — while itself *is* the competition with a “watercooler moment” happening — will face multiple newcomers, and a partial loss of IMAX screens to one of them. Still, highly enthusiastic audience and critic reception remains a massive component to its short- and long-term playability.

Christmas Week Entrants

The film aiming to capture roughly half of IMAX showtimes starting this Wednesday is The Matrix Resurrections, the last of Warner Bros.’ experimental 2021 strategy sending big tentpoles to theaters and streaming on HBO Max the same day.

Since The Matrix Revolutions underperformed at the box office in late 2003, die-hard fans have clamored for a revival of the franchise over the past two decades. The return of Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss as Neo and Trinity will certainly help bring back many of the faithful, but casual audiences remain a wild card element — especially given the lukewarm note which the series left off on, combined with at-home streaming availability and the overwhelming shadow of Spider-Man: No Way Home right now.

Reviews are leaning mostly positive with a 70 percent across more than 90 critics on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing, but that might not be enough to convince the uninitiated to show up. Ticket sales began with a relatively solid pace a few weeks ago, but have since levelled off considerably and aren’t extending strongly beyond IMAX showtimes. It’s a phenomenon that’s played out a few times recently, most notably with Dune (also a hybrid release) and No Time to Die.

Social media buzz has also been tempered of late, and without the ecstatic reviews of those aforementioned adult male-driven releases, Resurrections is in a more challenging market position than once hoped (particularly before the pandemic when the long-awaited sequel was announced and dated).

Resurrections opens Wednesday without any Tuesday previews. As consistently noted throughout this year, its nature as a hybrid release makes forecast models highly volatile even this close to release.

On the other hand, Universal’s Sing 2 is trending upward in a significant way. Following on the heels of Disney’s Encanto over Thanksgiving, the Illumination Entertainment sequel to 2016’s breakout holiday blockbuster — which earned $270.5 million domestically — is building on the momentum of the slowly returning family audience.

Vaccines for kids aged 5 to 11 have made a noticeable difference in parent comfort levels over the last month-plus, and pre-release metrics are bearing that out for Sing 2. The film’s Early Access screenings sold out or neared capacity across the country, and pre-sales for the wide bow look strong from opening day onward through Christmas.

There’s little doubt the film is the most prolific animated release to hit theaters since before the pandemic, and it’s on course for the best animated debut of any film since Frozen II in November 2019. The family-friendly sequel is well-timed to Christmas again, like its predecessor, and claims theatrical exclusivity as part of its distribution strategy. Reviews are at 64 percent for now, comparable to the first film’s 71 percent.

Social media growth is quite strong for the type of film that doesn’t always connect in a major way with that user base, indicating its reach beyond just the kiddie audience. A strong marketing campaign has raised awareness throughout most of 2021 with targeted promotional crossovers for major entertainment industry events, aiding in the interest levels for parents, young adults, and teens.

Sing 2 bows Wednesday without Tuesday previews. Universal has confirmed that the film’s $1.6 million earnings from November’s sneak previews will be included in the five-day weekend gross.

Running third among Wednesday’s new releases will be 20th Century Studios’ The King’s Man, another inherited title being released by Disney after its acquisition of Fox. For the most part, those films — excluding Free Guy — haven’t fared well at the box office this year. Ron’s Gone Wrong, The Last Duel, and West Side Story each underperformed in their box office debuts recently, casualties of various different factors.

Despite the success of the Kingsman franchise with 2015’s The Secret Service and 2017’s The Golden Circle entries, this prequel from returning filmmaker Matthew Vaughn is tracking more lightly than either. To an even sharper extent than the Matrix sequel this weekend, The King’s Man is inevitably going to be lost in the presence of No Way Home‘s aura.

Reviews are also missing the mark with a 45 percent score at the moment. Due to the built-in fan audience, we expect a somewhat front-loaded debut from Tuesday previews and Wednesday’s full opening, though the holiday corridor should minimize that.

One minor advantage it could have in such a crowded market will be spillover potential from Spider-Man sellouts combined with appeal to young and older male audiences as a release only available in theaters, but the lack of a premium format footprint will still cap potential.

Jumping to Christmas Day itself, Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company will hope to draw NFL fans and the faith-based moviegoing crowd for American Underdog.

Starring Zachary Levi as former Super Bowl champion and NFL Hall-of-Famer Kurt Warner, the film could be a dark horse candidate to surprise at the box office this weekend. Early screenings for the pic sold quite well last week, and it’s exactly the type of feel-good story that would typically scream sleeper hit in a pre-pandemic world during the holidays.

Alas, the target adult audience for Underdog remains the most cautious and challenging to predict throughout exhibition’s drawn out recovery.

With ongoing concerns about the Omicron variant and a very competitive market, expectations are cautiously optimistic and relatively fluid, but initially strong 94 percent critics’ and 97 percent audience scores so far suggest some upside for a healthy performance over the holiday window and a probable top five finish despite only having two days of play this weekend.

Meanwhile, Sony Pictures also enters the fray on Saturday with A Journal for Jordan, starring Michael B. Jordan and directed by Denzel Washington.

This is another counter-programmer that resembles the kind of release strategy common in late December before the pandemic, but we again note that the slow return of adults to cinemas right now dampens box office prospects for this release.

Reviews stand at 45 percent currently from just 11 reviews.

On the expansion front, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza goes from platform release to a semi-wide showing at an estimated 700 locations this weekend.

Considering the strength of its run so far — totaling $1.3 from just four locations — there should be a healthy turnout from arthouse and award season watchers as the strongly reviewed film hits most major markets on Christmas Day and looks to crack the top ten over the weekend.

As holdovers go, almost everything not named Encanto, West Side Story, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife to an extent will be hit hard by the onslaught of newcomers fighting for screen space in a market still giving understandably skewed preference to Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Still, barring any extreme headlines pertaining to the pandemic, it looks to be another banner weekend with the most significant variety of new content in theaters at the same time at any point during the box office rebound so far.

Wide Release Forecast Ranges

Spider-Man: No Way Home
2nd Weekend Range: $90 – 120 million

The King’s Man
Opening 3-Day Weekend Range: $8 – 13 million
Opening 5-Day Weekend Range: $13 – 21 million

The Matrix Resurrections
Opening 3-Day Weekend Range: $22 – 32 million
Opening 5-Day Weekend Range: $37 – 55 million

Sing 2
Opening 3-Day Weekend Range: $30 – 45 million
Opening 5-Day Weekend Range: $45 – 69 million

American Underdog
Opening 2-Day Weekend Range: $5 – 10 million

A Journal for Jordan
Opening 2-Day Weekend Range: $1 – 3 million

Weekend Forecast

Boxoffice projects between a 23 to 33 percent decrease for this weekend’s top ten films from last weekend’s $281.7 million top ten aggregate. That would also represent between a 1 to 16 percent increase from the same weekend in 2019, which generated $186.8 million during the second frame of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, December 26 Location Count % Change from Last Wknd
Spider-Man: No Way Home Sony Pictures / Columbia / Marvel Studios $107,000,000 $508,100,000 ~4,336 -59%
Sing 2 Universal Pictures $37,000,000 $58,000,000 3,892 NEW
The Matrix Resurrections Warner Bros. Pictures $22,600,000 $40,000,000 3,552 NEW
The King’s Man Disney / 20th Century Studios $9,900,000 $16,700,000 3,125 NEW
American Underdog Lionsgate / Kingdom Story Company $8,000,000 $8,000,000 ~2,700 NEW
Encanto Walt Disney Pictures $4,200,000 $92,200,000 3,175 -35%
Licorice Pizza United Artists Releasing $3,700,000 $5,000,000 ~700 +4,208%
West Side Story (2021) Disney / 20th Century Studios $2,500,000 $23,000,000 2,820 -32%
Ghostbusters: Afterlife Sony Pictures / Columbia $2,000,000 $121,900,000 ~2,200 -41%
A Journal for Jordan Sony Pictures / Columbia $1,600,000 $1,600,000 ~2,100 NEW

All forecasts are subject to revision before the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.

Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studiosThe above table does not necessarily represent the top ten as some studios do not finalize weekend location counts and/or an intent to report box office returns prior to publishing.

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