By JAKE COYLE AP Film Writer
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” opened in U.S. and Canadian theaters with a massive $120.5 million, more than tripling the debut of the 2018 animated original and showing the kind of movie-to-movie box-office growth that would be the envy of even the mightiest of Hollywood franchises.
Sony Pictures’ “Across the Spider-Verse,” the multi-verse spinning animated Spider-Man spinoff, sailed way past expectations, according to studio estimates Sunday, riding terrific reviews (95% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and strong buzz for the hotly anticipated follow-up to the Oscar-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”
In the sometimes formulaic realm of superhero movies, 2018’s “Into the Spider-Verse” offered a blast of originality, introducing a teenage webslinger from Brooklyn, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore ), a punk-rock Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) and a host of other Spider-People. It launched with $35.4 million on its way to $384.3 million worldwide.
“Across the Spider-Verse,” which exponentially expands the film’s universe-skipping worlds, cost $100 million to make, about half the cost of the average live-action comic-book movie. So at even the forecast $80 million that “Spider-Verse” had been expected to open, “Across the Spider-Verse” would have been a hit.
Instead, it has turned out to be a box-office sensation, and the second largest domestic opening of 2023, trailing only “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” “Across the Spider-Verse,” directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson, even topped “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” which debuted with $118 million, for best opening weekend of the summer so far.
The film, shepherded by writer-producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, is part two in a trilogy that will conclude with a third chapter to be released next year. “Across the Spider-Verse” over-performed abroad, too, with $88.1 million overseas.
After few family offerings for much of the first half of 2023, theaters are suddenly flush with kid-friendly entertainment. Last week’s top film, the Walt Disney Co.’s live action remake “The Little Mermaid,” slid to second with $40.6 million in it second weekend.
After launching with $95.5 million and $117.5 million over the four-day Memorial Day weekend, “The Little Mermaid” dipped 57%, partly due to the formidable competition from “Across the Spider-Verse.”
Having cost a reported $250 million to make, “The Little Mermaid” was met with mixed reviews but more enthusiasm from audiences, which gave it an “A” CinemaScore. But overseas, where previous Disney live-action remakes have thrived, is proving harder territory this time. The film added $42.4 million internationally over the weekend.
Disney also supplied the weekend’s top counter-programming option in “The Boogeyman,” a mostly well-received horror adaptation of a Stephen King short story. Director Rob Savage’s $35 million film, starring Sophie Thatcher and Chris Messina, had originally been intended to debut on Hulu before the studio pivoted. It opened with $12.3 million in ticket sales.
In limited release, the Sundance breakout film “Past Lives” launched with an impressive $58,067 per-screen average on four screens. Celine Song’s directorial debut stars Greta Lee as a woman torn between a childhood friend from Korea (Teo Yoo) and her American husband (John Magaro).