In its first weekend, "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" raked in $90.1 million, a new epidemic record. It's a fantastic outcome, one that helps struggling movie theaters and (once again) demonstrates Marvel's box office dominance.
Sony Pictures' considerably darker "Venom" sequel is distinct from Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe, which just released "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" and "Black Widow," the year's two highest-grossing flicks at the domestic box office. If the first three days in theaters are any indication, "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" will be among the highest-grossing films of 2021. The picture is solely available in theaters rather than a hybrid on-demand release, boosting ticket sales.
In a statement to the press, Sony chairman Tom Rothman remarked, "We are also pleased that patience and theatrical exclusivity have been rewarded with record results." "With due respect to Mark Twain, the death of movies has been greatly exaggerated."
The supervillain sequel, starring Tom Hardy as the otherworldly lethal protector, shattered the pandemic-era box office record set by "Black Widow," which made $80 million in its first weekend. It also generated $60 million on Disney Plus, which was available for purchase on the same day as its theatrical release.
"Young adult audiences are less deterred by current pandemic conditions than older and family moviegoers, which benefits superhero, action, and horror films," says David A. Gross, president of the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. "Playing exclusively on the big screen is clearly an advantage for these movies," he adds.
Even more amazing are the first-day ticket sales for "Venom: Let There Be Carnage": It had a stronger opening weekend than its predecessor, "Venom," released in 2018. Years before the horrific global health crisis, the first comic book adventure with Hardy at the lead grossed $80 million at the box office. Despite negative reviews, the first film was a box office success, grossing $213 million in North America and $856 million worldwide. "Venom" was especially popular in China, where the 2018 film grossed $269 million.
China, critical to the sequel's success, has yet to set a release date. Even though it is slated to debut there, "Black Widow," "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," and other famous Hollywood films have been denied entry.
"Venom: Let There Be Carnage" wasn't the only new release to boost the box office. MGM's animated adventure "The Addams Family 2" made a better-than-expected $18 million in 4,207 theaters while also accessible for on-demand rental.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros.' prequel to "The Sopranos," "The Many Saints of Newark," bombed in its first weekend, grossing only $5 million from 3,181 theaters. The film debuted concurrently on HBO Max at no additional cost to subscribers, just like the rest of the studio's 2021 slate.
In other domestic box office news, "Shang-Chi" brought in $6 million in its fifth weekend, bringing its total to $206 million. It's the first and only pandemic-era film to gross over $200 million in the United States and Canada. The superhero tentpole has grossed $386 million worldwide, which is significantly less than a Marvel film would have grossed in pre-COVID times but still counts as one of the highest hauls at a time when attendance is nowhere near pre-pandemic levels.