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Spider-Man swings onto box office records

The jury is still out on whether Spider-Man: No Way Home is a Christmas movie, but it certainly dominated the Christmas box office – becoming the first film of the COVID-19 pandemic to cross $US 1 billion ($A1.4 billion) in ticket sales, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore.

The Sony and Marvel blockbuster, which takes place around Christmastime, picked up a whopping $US81.5 million in the US in its second weekend for a North American cumulative of $US467.3 million.

The grand finale of director Jon Watts’ Spidey trilogy scored the second-biggest domestic opening ever last weekend and has since grossed a total of $US1.05 billion worldwide, despite not yet opening in China.

In other words, No Way Home – starring on- and off-screen couple Tom Holland and Zendaya – is officially the highest-grossing title of 2021 and is on track to surpass its predecessor, Spider-Man: Far From Home, as Sony’s No. 1 film of all time.

Debuting in second place at the North American box office this weekend was Universal Pictures’ Sing 2, which collected $US23.8 million. Also new to theatres this week was Warner Bros.’ The Matrix Resurrections, which landed in third place with $US12 million.

Both Spider-Man and Sing 2 were released exclusively in theatres, while Matrix launched simultaneously on HBO Max. Like countless titles before them, all three movies were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Directed by Garth Jennings, Sing 2 finds its familiar band of musical animals on a mission to put on a new show with the help of a reclusive rock star.

The animated sequel – featuring the voices of Bono, Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton and many others – received a middling 67 per cent rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes and a glowing A-plus grade from audiences polled by CinemaScore.

The highly anticipated fourth instalment in the Matrix franchise – helmed once again by Lana Wachowski (this time without sister and creative partner Lilly Wachowski) – sees Keanu Reeves reprise his superstar-making role as Neo and re-enter the mind-bending world of the Matrix to face a new foe.

The Matrix Resurrections – also starring Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Jada Pinkett Smith – earned a lukewarm 66 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes and an equally tepid B-minus on CinemaScore.

Rounding out the top five performances at the US domestic box office this weekend were 20th Century Studios’ The King’s Man, which opened to $US6.4 million, and Lionsgate’s American Underdog, which launched at $US6.2 million.

Notably, United Artists Releasing’s Licorice Pizza finally expanded to wide release on Saturday, nabbing $US2.3 million for a North American cumulative of $US3.7 million .

Upon its limited release last month, the buzzy Paul Thomas Anderson rom-com obliterated the pandemic record for average opening-weekend gross per theatre.

Next weekend, Spider-Man is all but guaranteed to continue its box-office reign into 2022 as zero new films are slated to open in wide release.

Launching in limited release are Sony Pictures Classics’ Jockey, Yash Raj Films’ Jersey and Vertical Entertainment’s Sensation.

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