The Quorum

Will 2021 have any $100M debuts? And does it even matter?

VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE got close when it debuted to $90M. But we’re not talking about hand grenades. Close doesn’t cut it. With the year winding down, 2021 could be the first year since 2003 not to have a film open above $100M.

This, naturally, leads to two questions: 

  1. Do any of the remaining films on the release schedule have a chance to reach the century mark?
  2. Does it even matter?

Let’s answer the second question first. 

2021 will go down in the history books as a transitional year for theatrical. With the world re-emerging from a pandemic, it’s fair to cut the year some slack. At the same time, the October 2021 box office was only down 18% versus the same month in 2019. That’s significantly better than September, which was off 47% from 2019. 

Some of that has to do with October being unusually stacked with tentpoles resulting from scheduling shuffles. For example, for the past 25 years, “James Bond” movies have opened in November or December to capitalize on the holiday box office. NO TIME TO DIE was initially set to open in November 2019, but after pandemic delays, it landed in October 2021. 

On top of that, the day-and-date releases that were partially in response to the pandemic (though they were also meant to boost studio’s new streaming services) cut into theatrical grosses. Would BLACK WIDOW have crossed $100M had it only opened in theaters? Maybe. At $80M, it certainly got close. 

So, on the one hand, asking if any film will reach $100M is a pointless question, nothing more than a parlor game. On the other hand, it’s a worthwhile exercise in understanding the health of the domestic box office. 

Now, back to the first question: will any of the November or December releases debut above $100M? There are only two films that have a realistic shot of doing so: ETERNALS and SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.


To date, only 10 November releases have debuted above $100M. Three were from THE HUNGER GAMES; three were from the TWILIGHT series, two came from Harry Potter, with the other two being FROZEN II and THOR: RAGNAROK. If ETERNALS pulls it off, it would be just the second MCU title to do so. 

The good news is that ETERNALS is tracking slightly better than SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS. Awareness is a hair below SHANG-CHI, while interest is a fraction higher. 

The bad news is that, at 60%, ETERNALS has the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score for a Marvel film. That will put some downward pressure on the film. The last fielding showed a slight dip in interest for ETERNALS that may be due to the lukewarm reviews. We will have to see if that downward trend continues through the week. 


Our September Holiday Preview noted that SPIDER-MAN is running ahead of the pack among all December releases. That’s still the case. And like back in September, it’s not even close. 

How dominant is SPIDER-MAN? Just take a look at our four main metrics. Among all films being tracked by The Quorum, SPIDER-MAN ranks #1 in awareness and interest. It ranks #2 in terms of location, with 57% of people saying they want to see it in a theater. And, it ranks 4th in Fee or Free, with 75% of people saying they would pay to see the film. 

These numbers are undoubtedly impressive. And they strongly suggest that SPIDER-MAN can open above $100M. The problem is that very few December releases can pull off that feat simply because the marketplace is so crowded. Only four December releases have opened above $100M: STAR WARS episodes seven through nine and the spin-off ROGUE ONE.

Still, given the enormity of these numbers, we’re not ruling out the possibility that SPIDER-MAN joins that list. 

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