Venom 2 has the biggest opening of the pandemic

(Venom has big October)

Who would have assumed that Andy Serkis’ film, with Tom Hardy reprising his role as a reporter with superpowers gained from aliens, would have the biggest first weekend since December 2019? Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Sony’s follow-up to the hit 2018 supervillain film blew past expectations at the box offices this weekend.

Pre-opening estimates of $40 million-$60 million didn’t remotely hint at this record-breaking $90 million opening in North America. The total is the biggest for the pandemic era and second-biggest ever for the month of October.

Venom: Let There be Carnage is about Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) who is still struggling to coexist with the shape-shifting extraterrestrial Venom we met in 2018. When deranged serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) also becomes host to an alien symbiote, Brock and Venom must put aside their differences to stop his reign of terror.

Venom: Let there be Carnage is separate from Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe (?), which recently delivered Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Black Widow, 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 is on track to join those blockbusters as 2021’s biggest earners. The film is playing exclusively in theaters, as opposed to being available in a hybrid release on-demand, which is a factor that should help boost ticket sales.

Venom: Let there be Carnage surpassed both Black Widow and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which held onto the number 1 spot for the previous 4 weeks, not to mention the 2018 Venom’s $80 million opening. Much like the 2018 Venom, ticket sales were boosted by IMAX sales and this time around IMAX ticket sales made up 23% of the weekend gross. 

The impressive box office this past weekend shows us that American theatergoers are ready to return to “normalcy”, plus completely validating Scarlett Johansson’s grievances against Disney for releasing Black Widow on Disney+ Premier Access at the same time the film was released in theaters, when she had an agreement the film would be released exclusively in theaters. 

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Another new release this week, the animated The Addams Family 2 took the #2 spot and grossed $18 million, down from $30 million for the original. However, it is also available on Premium VOD and family films have seen an overall drop of 25 percent or more below previous results. 

Warner Bros’ The Many Saints of Newark, the mind-numbingly boring Sopranos prequel starring James Gandolfini’s talentless son Michael as the young Tony Soprano, which was also available on HBO Max, also contributed to knocking the reigning #1 film Shang-Chi down to 4th place by taking the #3 spot by grossing $5 million. The abysmal film will likely drop off the top ten list very quickly in the coming weeks. 

As mentioned, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, in it’s 5th week, has slipped down the top ten list to #4, but has already broken the $200 million mark, reaching a 5 week cumulative of $206 million. 

Universal’s Dear Evan Hansen completes the Top 5 with $2.45 million in its second weekend, a 67% drop from the film’s $7.5 million opening weekend for a 10-day total of $11.7 million.

The other three top 10 holdovers, all of which have home VOD availability, are still holding onto the top ten list. Free Guy, dropped to #6 after 8 weeks at the box office, Jungle Cruise, which was released day and date on Disney+ Premier Access for $29.99 and has been in theaters for 10 weeks, fell  to the #8 spot from last week’s #6, and Candyman, available on demand on multiple platforms, dropped down to the #7 spot from #4 in it’s 6th week. 

Chal Mera Putt 3 from Rhythm Boyz Entertainment and filmmaker Janjot Singh opened at #9 and is looking at an estimated $210K Friday and 3-day of $674K for a very good $7,4K theater average. The threequel, about the lives of illegal immigrants in the UK, their friendship, and their constant struggle of finding a home away from home, did most of its business in Canada.

Lionsgate’s documentary about the faith-based music scene, The Jesus Music, grossed $244K on Friday for what appears to be a $550K opening weekend at 249 theaters in 108 markets. The feature from the Erwin Brothers had some halfway decent runs in the Bible Belt and earned itself the #10 spot on the list. 

The Top Ten

1. Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 47; Est. budget: $110 million

$90,100,000 in 4,225 theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $90,100,000

2. The Addams Family 2 (United Artists) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 39; also on Premium VOD

$18,007,000 in 4,207 theaters; PTA: $4,280; Cumulative: $18,007,000

3. The Many Saints of Newark (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: C+; Metacritic: 61; also on HBO Max

$5,000,000 in 3,181 theaters; PTA: $1,572; Cumulative: $5,000,000

4. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Disney) Week 5; Last weekend #1

$6,037,000 (-54%) in 3,455 (-497) theaters ; PTA: $1,747; Cumulative: $206,109,000

5. Dear Evan Hansen (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$2,450,000 (-67%) in 3,364 (no change) theaters ; PTA: $728; Cumulative: $11,800,000

6. Free Guy (Disney) Week 8; Last weekend #3; also on Premium VOD

$2,278,000 (-45%) in 2,545 (-630) theaters ; PTA: $895; Cumulative: $117,628,000

7. Candyman (Universal) Week 6; Last weekend #4; also on Premium VOD

$1,230,000 (-52%) in 1,745 (-811) theaters ; PTA: $705; Cumulative: $58,903,000

8. Jungle Cruise (Disney) Week 10; Last weekend #6; also on Premium VOD

$680,000 (-61%) in 1,375 (-690) theaters; PTA: $495; Cumulative: $116,063,000

9. Chal Mera Putt 3 (Rhythm Boyz) NEW

$(est.) 590,000 in 81 theaters; PTA: $7,284; Cumulative: $(est.) 590,000

10. The Jesus Music (Lionsgate) NEW –  Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 42

$560,250 in 249 theaters; PTA: $2,250; Cumulative: $560,250

Even with Venom: Let There Be Carnage’s record opening, this October is very different from previous Octobers in the industry as it is uncharacteristically stuffed with major film debuts such as MGM’s latest James Bond film No Time to Die on October 8 and Warner Brothers.’ Sci-Fi epic Dune on October 22, it’s a month that could also say a lot about the future of the movie theater business in general.


Joia DaVida reports on the entertainment industry in both Chicago and Los Angeles.