“Venom: Let There be Carnage” roared to $90 million in its debut, setting a new pandemic record. It’s an impressive result, one that provides a lifeline to struggling movie theaters and (once again) proves Marvel’s might at the box office.
The much darker “Venom” follow-up comes from Sony Pictures and is separate from Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, which recently delivered “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and “Black Widow” — the two highest-grossing films of the year at the domestic box office. If its first three days in theaters are any indication, “Venom: Let There be Carnage” looks to find itself among that group as 2021’s biggest earners. The film is playing only in cinemas as opposed to a hybrid release on-demand, a factor that should help ticket sales.
“We are also pleased that patience and theatrical exclusivity have been rewarded with record results,” Sony’s chairman Tom Rothman said in a statement to press. “With apologies to Mr. Twain: The death of movies has been greatly exaggerated.”
The supervillain sequel, starring Tom Hardy as the otherworldly lethal protector, blew past the benchmark previously set by “Black Widow,” which opened to $80 million in July. That movie made an additional $60 million on Disney Plus, where it was available to purchase on the same day as its theatrical debut.
Making inaugural ticket sales for “Venom: Let There be Carnage” even more impressive: It had a bigger opening weekend than its predecessor, 2018’s “Venom.” The original Hardy-led comic book adventure opened to $80 million, in years removed from the devastating global health crisis. Despite terrible reviews, the first film became a box office juggernaut and grossed $213 million in North America and $856 million globally. “Venom” was particularly huge in China, where the 2018 movie collected $269 million.
The sequel doesn’t have a release date yet in China, a market that will be crucial to its success. Though it is expected to open there, the country has denied “Black Widow,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and other major Hollywood titles.
“Young adult audiences are less deterred by current pandemic conditions than older and family moviegoers, which is benefitting superhero, action and horror movies,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. He adds: “For these movies, playing exclusively on the big screen is clearly an advantage.”
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