Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swings to top of the box office

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<em>Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse</em> swings to top of the box office

There’s a new Spider-Man in town — and he’s on top of the box office.

Sony’s stylish animated movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which features an Afro-Latino teen named Miles Morales under the mask (voiced by Shameik Moore), is on track to sell an estimated $35.4 million in tickets at 3,813 theaters in the U.S. and Canada from Friday through Sunday. In doing so, it will handily become the No. 1 film in North America, ending Ralph Breaks the Internet’s three-week reign, while also scoring the biggest December opening ever for an animated movie.

Meanwhile, Clint Eastwood’s crime drama The Mule is off to a solid start, and the Peter Jackson-produced dystopian tale Mortal Engines is shaping up as a big-budget flop.

Heading into the weekend, Into the Spider-Verse had been projected to debut in the $30 million to $40 million range. Made for about $90 million, film represents Sony’s latest effort to mine the popularity of the Spider-Man mythos, which it has long licensed from Marvel. In October, the studio released the Spider-Man-adjacent live-action film Venom, which has grossed $852.7 million at the worldwide box office.

And of course, Sony has brought three different live-action incarnations of Peter Parker’s web-slinger to the screen over the years: Toby Maguire in the Spider-Man movies (the first of which opened to $114.8 million in 2002), Andrew Garfield in the Amazing Spider-Man movies (the first of which opened to $62 million in 2012), and Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Homecoming (which opened to $117 million last year and cemented the character’s place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe).

Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, Into the Spider-Verse finds Morales teaming up with similarly powered Spider-People from different dimensions (including a parallel-universe Peter Parker voiced by Jake Johnson) to battle the notorious crime boss known as Kingpin (Liev Schreiber). Critics’ reviews have been excellent, and audiences gave it an A-plus CinemaScore, indicating strong word-of-mouth prospects. Overseas, the film will add an estimated $21 million this weekend.

Sony is already eyeing a Spider-Verse sequel and a separate spin-off.

Trotting into second place is The Mule, the latest directorial effort from Eastwood, within an estimated $17.2 million. That figure is in line with industry expectations and puts it ahead of Eastwood’s previous film, The 15:17 to Paris, which opened to $12.5 million in February.

In addition to directing, Eastwood stars as Earl Stone, a man in his 80s who, when facing foreclosure of his business, signs on to a job as a driver, which turns out to be a courier gig for a Mexican drug cartel. Dianne Wiest, Michael Peña, Andy Garcia, Laurence Fishburne, and Bradley Cooper costar in the Warner Bros. release. While critics generally assessed The Mule as middling output from Eastwood, audiences gave it an A-minus CinemaScore.

The weekend’s other major new release, Universal’s Mortal Engines, will squeak into the top five with an estimated $7.5 million, on the low-end of already muted expectations. That would seem to spell trouble for a film that reportedly cost at least $100 million to produce. In spite of Jackson’s involvement (as producer and co-writer), the film isn’t faring much better overseas, taking in about $11.5 million this weekend.

Taking place hundreds of years after an apocalyptic event, Mortal Engines stars Hera Hilmar as Hester Shaw, a mysterious young woman singled out to stop London — which has become a giant predatory city on wheels. Hugo Weaving, Robert Sheehan, and Ronan Raftery also star in the film, which is based on the Philip Reeve book of the same name. Critics raked the film, and audiences didn’t show it much love either, bestowing it with a B-minus CinemaScore.

Animated films continue to hold strong at the box office, with Universal’s The Grinch taking the No. 3 spot with an estimated $11.6 million for the weekend and Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet claiming fourth place with an estimated $9.6 million.

In limited release, Moonlight director Barry Jenkins’ awards hopeful If Beale Street Could Talk will debut with an estimated $219,173 at just four locations, which works out to a strong per-screen average of $54,793. Based on the book by James Baldwin and released by Annapurna, the film stars KiKi Layne, Stephan James, and Regina King.

Overall box office is up 8.6 percent year-to-date, according to Comscore. See the Dec. 14-16 figures below.

1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — $35.4 million
2. The Mule — $17.2 million
3. The Grinch — $11.6 million
4. Ralph Breaks the Internet — $9.6 million
5. Mortal Engines — $7.5 million
6. Creed II — $5.4 million
7. Bohemian Rhapsody — $4.1 million
8. Instant Family — $3.72 million
9. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald — $3.65 million
10. Green Book — $2.8 million

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