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Spider-Man: Homecoming to swing into top spot at box office

David Lowery’s Sundance hit A Ghost Story also enters limited release this weekend

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Columbia Pictures; A24 Films

It’s hard to believe it’s only been three years since the last Spider-Man blockbuster swung into theaters, yet here we are, about to embark on yet another web-slinging adventure with the third actor to tackle the heroic role since 2007.

The latest vision for the slim-suited hero sees Tom Holland taking the reins from Andrew Garfield amid a directorial hand-off from Marc Webb to Jon Watts, whose Spider-Man reboot, subtitled Homecoming, guns for a substantial place among the biggest hits of the year so far as it revolves around the crimefighter’s formative teenage years.

Arriving at 4,341 locations this Friday (with Thursday night previews), the $175 million production would have been the hottest ticket of the season if Wonder Woman hadn’t stolen its thunder with a record-breaking debut last month. As several widely appealing titles hover around the top five, Sony is conservatively expecting an opening in excess of $80 million, which would put the film in line with the second in Sam Raimi’s trilogy, which bagged $88 million in its first three days back in 2004. While Webb’s initial entry in his Garfield-fronted revival registered a new low for the web-head’s franchise with a minimal $62 million opening in 2012, its follow-up actually built significantly on the performance of its forerunner, debuting to $91 million two years later.

That — and the padding provided by Holland’s crossover with other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — bodes well for Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s prospects. Positive reviews (the film holds a healthy 73 score on Metacritic) can also make a huge difference in the performance of studio tentpoles, as we already saw this year with Wonder Woman, which overcame modest projections to push past $100 million on stellar word of mouth. Marketing certainly hasn’t shied away from touting Robert Downey Jr.’s presence in the film, either, and he’s the most bankable figure in the MCU.

With no new wide releases nipping at Spidey’s heels, the coast is completely clear for the Marvel blockbuster to handily peak atop the domestic chart in the $100 million–$125 million range.

Illumination/Universal Pictures

Last week’s top earner, Despicable Me 3, could see Homecoming devouring a considerable chunk (assume 40-50 percent) of its debut business, as the latter boasts cross-demographic appeal thanks to its built-in Marvel ties and focus on a much younger, teenage Spider-Man who will appeal to both a youthful crowd and older fans. Baby Driver, last week’s second-place finisher, however, has become enough of a cultural talking point that it should withstand the Homecoming wave to climb down a single rung with a soft 30-40 percent decline.

As Spider-Man rises, his action-oriented counterparts will likely crumble around him, as Wonder Woman is eyeing its first major drop since its June 2 debut, after which it shed between 29 percent and 43 percent from week-to-week. Major superhero titles tend to cannibalize each other in wide release, and though Wonder Woman has performed well thus far (it’s currently the highest-grossing DCEU title as it approaches the $400 million North American mark), the Patty Jenkins-directed flick will likely lose around 50 percent of its audience from the previous frame as Homecoming courts them away. Expect Wonder Woman to finish the weekend at No. 4.

Similarly, Transformers: The Last Knight will see another harsh dip as it is arguably the lowest on the must-see totem pole among the quartet of major actioners (Wonder Woman, Homecoming, and Baby Driver being the others) currently on the market. After garnering the worst opening of the Transformers franchise, the movie crashed 62 percent from its $44 million opening and will suffer another tumble in the coming days as it hovers around a fifth-place finish.

On the specialty front, David Lowery’s Sundance hit A Ghost Story — starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, the latter of whom spends most of the film under a crisp white sheet — enters limited release on Friday, and should post solid numbers thanks to a focused marketing campaign, enthusiastic reviews, and solid buzz out of the Park City-based film summit earlier this year.

Check back with EW on Sunday for our full box office report. In the meantime, here’s what could end up in the top five over the July 7-9 stretch:

1: Spider-Man: Homecoming – $120 million
2: Despicable Me 3 – $38 million
3: Baby Driver – $13.5 million
4: Wonder Woman – $8 million
5: Transformers: The Last Knight – $6 million