“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” — Sony’s follow-up to the hit 2018 supervillain film — blew past expectations at the ticket booth this weekend. The film, which stars Tom Hardy as the ravenous alien symbiote, notched an estimated $90.1 million at the North American box office this weekend.
The total is the biggest for the pandemic era and second biggest ever for the month of October, according to Comscore (. It’s also incredibly good news for theaters owners who are hoping that October can string together multiple hit weekends at the box office. So far, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” — a film that played exclusively in theaters — has done exactly that. )
Sony had tempered its estimates for the film, projecting it would come in at around $40 million while other analysts projected a take of $50 million or higher. Those expectations seemed low, especially in retrospect, but theaters are still trying to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic and audiences may still be skittish since the global health crisis isl ongoing.
None of that slowed “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” down this weekend, however.
The opening weekend success of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, which also surprised the industry with an $80 million debut in 2018 — an October box office record at the time.
So, “Let There Be Carnage” beat the original’s opening and did so during a pandemic and at a time when streaming big films at home has become a new focus of studios. It also found an audience despite bad reviews from critics. The film has a 58% score on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.
“We are also pleased that patience and theatrical exclusivity have been rewarded with record results,” Tom Rothman, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures’ Motion Picture Group, said in a statement on Sunday. “With apologies to Mr. Twain: The death of movies has been greatly exaggerated.”
In short, the news on Sunday couldn’t be better for Sony or theater owners. This is especially so considering that the industry is kicking off what may be its most important October in Hollywood history.
While having a few hit films in recent years, October has historically never been a month known for big box office hits. In fact, it was usually a dead zone between the lucrative summer movie season and the critically-acclaimed awards fare of the holidays.
This October, however, is very different.
Not only is this month uncharacteristically jam-packed with major films such as MGM’s latest James Bond film “No Time to Die” and Warner Bros.’ Sci-Fi epic “Dune,” it’s a month that could also say a lot about the short- and long-term future of the movie theater business. (Warner Bros., like CNN, is owned by WarnerMedia.)
Ultimately, this month could give Hollywood and industry observers a good sense of if audiences are still willing to pack into theaters.
If “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is any indication, the answer seems to be a decisive yes.