Since March 2020, all box office returns have been reported with either a literal or implied asterisk. The movie industry hasn’t been the same since the start of the pandemic, and it’s the grain of salt with which one has to take all news about big screen ticket sales. For example, it’s been a go-to explanation for whenever a sequel has under-performed compared to its predecessor – but this weekend we have a case where that excuse is unnecessary. Andy Serkis’ Venom: Let There Be Carnage has arrived in theaters with a big boom this past Friday, and in its first three days it has actually managed to surpass what Ruben Fleischer’s Venom did back in 2018.
Check out the full Top 10 chart below, and join me after for analysis!
|1. Venom: Let There Be Carnage*
|2. The Addams Family 2*
|3. Shang-Chi & The Legend Of The Ten Rings
|4. The Many Saints of Newark
|5. Dear Evan Hansen
|6. Free Guy
|8. Jungle Cruise
|9. The Jesus Music*
When Venom was released during this very same weekend three years ago, it impressed and surprised by taking in $80.3 million in its first Friday-to-Sunday, but that turned out to be a number that Venom: Let There Be Carnage had no issue beating. Last week it was reported that Sony was only expecting the comic book blockbuster sequel to bring in $40 million from its debut – but executives over there must be dancing for joy as the film was able to more than double that estimate.
Not only is the success of the new release great compared to its predecessor and conservative studio estimates, but it also now holds the record for having the best opening weekend performance by a movie since the start of the pandemic. The high bar was previously set by Cate Shortland’s Black Widow, which made $80.4 million when it was released in early July (though that film was simultaneously released via Premier Access on Disney+, and the studio reported that it made an additional $60 million from its digital premiere). Regardless, Venom: Let There Be Carnage can be called the highest grossing opener to arrive exclusively on the big screen.
The raging success of the movie – starring Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson as the titular symbiotes – additionally accomplished something that no title that came out in September was able to do: it took the top spot of the chart away from Destin Daniel-Cretton’s Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings. The Marvel Cinematic Universe release set a tiny record last month by being the first feature in 2021 to reign at number one for four consecutive weeks, but Venom: Let There Be Carnage is the first film that was able to top its slowly shrinking earnings. Notably the feature didn’t move far, as you can see in the chart, as it is still ranks third in North America.
What fans shouldn’t expect, however, is that Venom 2 will be able to go on a run nearly as long as Shang-Chi. The blockbuster may be surprisingly popular, but the MCU title didn’t have to go toe-to-toe with massive competition like Cary Joji Fukunaga’s No Time To Die, David Gordon Green’s Halloween Kills, and Denis Villeneuve’s Dune – all of which are set to hit theaters in the next few weeks.
Of course, it should be noted that Venom: Let There Be Carnage even had some significant competition this weekend, but the films had varying degrees of success in the shadow of Hollywood’s latest live-action comic book movie. Putting up the biggest fight against the Tom Hardy flick was Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan’s The Addams Family 2, which was offered as counterprogramming for Venom 2, and performed modestly.
Unlike its main competition, The Addams Family 2 did not succeed in out-grossing its previous chapter in its opening weekend – as the original successfully pulled in $30.3 million in its first three days back in 2019. That being said, it made about as much money as was predicted last week, and we also don’t know much the film made from simultaneously being available to watch on PVOD (the cost per 48-hour rental being $19.99).
Alan Taylor’s The Many Saints Of Newark made a far smaller splash than either of the other two new offerings, as its total in ticket sales accounts for only 5.6 percent of what Venom: Let There Be Carnage was able to haul in. Like all of the other titles on the Warner Bros. slate in 2021, the movie is currently available to stream on HBO Max, and it’s possible that a larger cross section of the target audience for the film opted to stream the feature alongside watching classic episodes of The Sopranos. The traffic and subscriber figures are unfortunately kept hidden, though, so all we have to look at is its $5 million in big screen ticket sales and a fourth place opening – which doesn’t really look all that great on paper.
Looking beyond just the domestic front, some of the biggest box office news of the weekend has been unfolding overseas – and it very well could provide us a preview of what’s to come in North America in the days ahead. While Venom 2 may be crushing here at home, it’s No Time To Die that is presently crushing just about everywhere else. The film, which is the last James Bond adventure starring Daniel Craig, hasn’t been released in China just yet, but playing in 54 other countries it has already managed to make $119 million, according to The Wrap. It still has a considerable way to go before it is able to make up for its crazy production budget – as Variety says that the net budget for the movie was $301 million – but it is off to a phenomenal start.
The earnings for No Time To Die will only increase next week as it arrives in theaters here in North America, and the question will be how high the numbers can go. It would certainly be interesting to see if the record set by Venom: Let There Be Carnage only lasts one week – and there will obviously be a lot of eyes on the percentage drop that the comic book movie experiences in its sophomore weekend. To learn about how it all shakes out, be sure to head back here to CinemaBlend next Sunday for our latest weekend box office report.