"Spider-man: No Way Home" grossed $50 million in preview screenings in the United States and Canada on Thursday, the third-highest sum for preview showings ahead of what is likely to be a record-breaking weekend for cinemas that have fought to stay afloat during the pandemic.
The launch day sales set a new COVID-19 era record. According to box office observers, total domestic receipts for "No Way Home" might reach as high as $240 million during the weekend, placing it among the top five film debuts of all time.
Tom Holland stars as the web-slinging superhero and Zendaya as his girlfriend, MJ, in the big-budget superhero film co-produced by Sony Corp and Walt Disney Co. The film is being shown only in theaters.
The film's early popularity was a boon for movie chains such as AMC Entertainment Holdings' Cinemark and Cineworld's Regal. Cinemark reported that "No Way Home" had the most opening night sales of any film in its history.
AMC's stock, dubbed a meme stock by retail investors, surged 23.5 percent to $30.19 during Friday's lively trading session. Cinemark's stock increased 2.9 percent to $16.63.
The box office results indicate that the film is attracting many new viewers during the pandemic, despite the spread of the new Omicron variety, according to Shawn Robbins, a principal analyst at BoxOfficePro.com.
"This is also an example of having the right content at the right time with the holiday corridor beginning full swing," he added.
Robbins projected that "No Way Home" will gross between $190 million and $240 million in US theaters this weekend.
The pandemic's largest opening to date was the superhero feature "Venom: Let There Be Carnage," which grossed $90 million in its first three days in October.
Film critics lauded "No Way Home" As of Friday, 95 percent of 220 reviews on the Rotten Tomatoes website were positive.