Sony's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse earned $35.4 million in its first weekend of release, leading the domestic box office, and setting a new record for a December debut by an animated feature. Mortal Engines, the Peter Jackson-produced post-apocalyptic adventure, coasted on fumes to fifth place with an abysmal $7.5 million.
The performance of Into the Spider-Verse doesn't come as a surprise, as pre-release projections placed the feature on a path to a U.S. debut of between $35 million and $40 million. Gathering Spider-heroes from across the multiverse, from Peter Parker to Miles Morales to Gwen Stacy, the film has earned widespread critical acclaim, and hold a score of 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Sony has already confirmed plans for an expansion of the animated franchise, with a sequel focusing on the budding romance between Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy, and a spinoff that will introduce the heroes Silk and Jessica Drew's Spider-Woman.
However, the future of Universal Pictures' Mortal Engines doesn't look nearly so rosy. In development for nearly a decade, the CGI-heavy adaptation of Philip Reeve's popular series of young-adult novels cost more than $100 million to produce. But even with the involvement of Jackson and his Lord of the Rings collaborators, the film landed with a thud, drawing scorching reviews and a 28 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Clint Eastwood crime drama The Mule came in a distant second behind Into the Spider-Verse with $17 million, followed by a pair of returning animated releases, Universal's The Grinch ($11.5 million) and Disney's Ralph Breaks the Internet ($9.3 million).
Alas, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is unlikely to repeat its performance next weekend, where it faces stiff competition from Warner Bros.' Aquaman, Paramount's Bumblebee and Disney's Mary Poppins Returns.