Will Scream End Spider-Man: No Way Homes Mighty Box Office Reign?

Has “Spider-Man: No Way Home” finally met its match?

After an impressive four-week streak at the top of domestic box office charts, Paramount’s slasher sequel “Scream” could give Sony’s latest Marvel web-slinging adventure a run for the No. 1 spot.

The R-rated “Scream” is expected to generate a leading $25 million to $30 million from 3,661 theaters in its opening weekend, which would be a solid start at a time when COVID-19 cases have continued to surge. However, box office watchers predict that fears over the highly contagious omicron variant may not be a hindrance to ticket sales, and positive reviews for the franchise’s fifth installment could even propel its inaugural ticket sales to $35 million or more.

Unless “Scream” beats box office expectations, though, 2000’s “Scream 3” should maintain its record as the franchise’s biggest debut with $34 million. But with its $24 million production budget, “Scream” doesn’t have a difficult path to profitability. Plus, the newest chapter in the 25-year-old “Scream” property does not have notable competition at movie theaters until Roland Emmerich’s disaster epic “Moonfall” debuts on Feb. 4.

Directed by Matt Bettineli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (the first without the late Wes Craven at the helm), “Scream” — not to be confused with 1996’s “Scream” — brings back Marley Shelton, Courteney Cox, David Arquette and Neve Campbell to the quiet town of Woodsboro, where a new killer has donned the Ghostface mask and begins targeting a group of teenagers. Series newcomers include “In the Heights” star Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega (“Jane the Virgin”), Dylan Minnette of “13 Reasons Why” fame and Jack Quaid.

The film has been (surprisingly?) well received in early screenings, a factor that should lead to positive word-of-mouth and sufficient ticket sales. In Variety’s review, chief film critic Owen Gleiberman calls “Scream” a “meta slasher thriller” that “winks entertainingly at the badness of sequels.”

“Is it fun? Mostly, yes. Surprising? It keeps faking you out about who the killer is, and playing that guessing game is part of the film’s suspense, but it’s a suspense based on the fact that the film can stay one step ahead of us in a totally arbitrary way,” he wrote.

Though “Scream” should take the domestic box office mantle, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” doesn’t have much to worry about. The newest Spidey adventure, starring Tom Holland, has been a saving grace to movie theater operators, earning a stellar $670 million in domestic ticket sales to date. Now in its fifth weekend of release, “No Way Home” could add $16 million to $19 million between Friday and Sunday, marking a standard 40% to 50% decline from its previous outing.

Those North American receipts will push the film past “Avengers: Infinity War” ($678 million) on all-time rankings to become the fifth-highest grossing movie in history. Through the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday, the third Holland-led “Spider-Man” installment should be within striking distance of Disney’s Marvel tentpole “Black Panther,” which is the fourth-biggest earner domestically with $700 million. Bow down to Queen’s teen vigilante.

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