NEW YORK – On a chillingly quiet weekend at movie theaters, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” again topped the box office in its seventh week of release.
January is traditionally a slow month for moviegoing and that's been especially true this year, in part because the omicron variant of the coronavirus prompted some postponements. But even before the omicron surge or a blizzard that forced some theaters closed Saturday in the Northeast, the weekend was set to be especially muted.
Sony Pictures' “Spider-Man: No Way Home" grossed $11 million over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday, bringing its domestic total to $735.9 million. The Marvel hit has accounted for a huge percentage of the month’s ticket sales.
“No Way Home,” which has topped the box office for six of the past seven weekends, has continued to hold well since opening in December. This weekend, it dropped only 20% from the week prior. In the record books, “No Way Home” is approaching the third-highest grossing film in North America, “Avatar” ($760 million). It also added $21.1 million overseas to pass $1 billion internationally.
But aside from Paramount Pictures’ “Scream,” which stayed in second place with $7.4 million in its third weekend, January has been a dead zone. No new releases opened widely over the weekend. Last week, one of the only films to try to open nationwide was “The King’s Daughter,” a woebegone fairy tale starring Pierce Brosnan that was made in 2014.
While the ups and downs of the pandemic have meant a fluctuating recovery for movie theaters, the dearth of January releases comes on the heels of Hollywood's biggest pandemic success in “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” At the box office, famine has followed feast.
“Lack of movies is a critical issue for movie theaters," said Patrick Corcoran, spokesman for the National Association of Theater Owners. “Contrary to some industry thinking, we cannot live on blockbusters alone. A consistent flow of exclusive movies to the movie theater is necessary to serve the range of audiences that go to the movies.”
“We cannot get back to normal and show audiences that movie theaters are safe if the studios don’t give us a normal flow of films,” added Corcoran.
For exhibitors, it's a potentially worrying sign of what may come. Though there have always been lulls at the box office, such quiet periods could become more regular. Aside from the myriad films that go straight to streaming on platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+, industry consolidation — and less major studio product — has been a concern for theater owners since Walt Disney Co. acquired 20th Century Fox in 2019.
Whether the theatrical business can weather the changes wrought by streaming is one question. But another, and potentially more pressing one is whether theaters will always have enough movies to subsist in between the biggest hits.
Next week, Lionsgate's “Moonfall” and Paramount Pictures' “Jackass Forever” will open and are expected to finally topple “Spider-Man: No Way Home" from the top spot. A large number of blockbusters, including “The Batman,” “Jurassic World: Dominion" and “Top Gun: Maverick," await in 2022. But some alarmingly thin periods may, too.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. "Spider-Man: No Way Home," $11 million.
2. “Scream,” $7.4 million.
3. “Sing 2,” $4.8 million.
4. “Redeeming Love,” $1.9 million.
5. “The King's Man,” $1.8 million.
6. “The 355,” $1.4 million.
7. “American Underdog,” $1.2 million.
8. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” $770,000.
9. “Licorice Pizza," $691,000.
10. “West Side Story,” $614,000.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP