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ATLANTA — How popular is Spider-Man? So popular that fans were clamoring for a movie trailer that didn't even exist.
The trailer for "Spider-Man: No Way Home" — or some version of it — reportedly leaked online this weekend, sending millions of fans searching social media for any tidbits from the new movie. The film, the third installment starring Tom Holland as Peter Parker, hits theaters in December.
What the leaked trailer actually showed is hard to know since it's already been erased from the internet. And Sony, the film's studio, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the leak, so there are still a lot of unknowns.
On Monday night, however, the "Spider-Man: No Way Home" Twitter account published an official trailer.
The trailer itself really doesn't matter as much as the fervor around it. The attention is yet another great example of just how popular Spider-Man is at the cineplex.
The Spider-Man franchise — which is currently shared between Sony and Disney's Marvel Studios — is one of the most popular brands in box office history, notching more than $6.3 billion at the global box office, according to Comscore. That includes the last two Sony/ Disney films — 2017's "Spider-Man: Homecoming" and 2019's "Spider-Man: Far From Home" — which have earned $880 million and $1.1 billion worldwide, respectively.
The character in many ways helped create the blockbuster comic book era Hollywood is currently experiencing. 2002's "Spider-Man," which starred Tobey Maguire as the hero, shattered box office records at the time before going on to make more than $800 million globally. That film spawned two sequels before Sony replaced Maguire with Andrew Garfield in 2012.
Sony also found success with 2018's animated "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," which made $375 million worldwide and won an Academy Award.
"No Way Home" is so highly anticipated in part because there have been rumors that Maguire and Garfield could join Holland thanks to Marvel's "multiverse" storylines, which open up the series to a multitude of characters and realities. Those rumors have been shot down, but the casting of prior villains, such as Jamie Foxx's Electro, has some fans holding out hope.
Theater owners are also optimistic that "No Way Home" will be the type of blockbuster that can help them get back on their feet. The film is set to hit theaters on Dec. 17, and could be the biggest blockbuster of the year. If that's the case, it could not only bring in a ton of money, but also help the industry springboard into 2022.
So, yes, there have been some hits and misses so far this year at the box office, but if the reaction to a briefly leaked trailer is any indication, the industry's biggest hit has yet to swing into theaters.