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In a boost for the big-screen experience, Venom: Let There Be Carnage hissed loudly with $37.3 million at the Friday box office, the second-best opening day of the COVID-19 era behind the $39.5 million earned by Black Widow.
That means that Venom 2, made by Sony in association with Marvel Studios, is almost assured of zooming past $70 million for the three-day weekend, one of the best showings of the pandemic era. Some even think it could near the $80.4 million grossed by three-day record holder Black Widow.
Venom 2 is being released exclusively in cinemas versus going out simultaneously on premium VOD or a streaming service.
Friday’s $37.3 million gross includes a hefty $11.6 million in Thursday previews, which are always lumped in with Friday numbers. Venom 2′s preview gross was likewise the second-best preview showing of the pandemic era behind Black Widow. Shows started at 4 p.m. local time in 3,700 locations.
In terms of overall pandemic records, Marvel and Disney’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings set a new benchmark when opening to $94.7 million over the four-day Labor Day frame. For the three days, it earned $75.4 million.
Venom 2 kicks off a busy month that looks more like summer than a regular October as studios bank on consumers becoming more and more comfortable returning to theaters. A staggering 65 percent of Friday’s earnings came from Imax and other premium large-format venues, a sign that consumers are willing to dole out extra money for an upgraded experience.
Andy Serkis directs the Tom Hardy-starring Venom: Let There Be Carnage. The Sony/Marvel film (in association with Tencent Pictures) also stars Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Reid Scott and Naomie Harris, the latter as the comic book villain Shriek.
Venom 2 is led by Hardy as Eddie Brock, a journalist who has an alien symbiote living within him. Together, they are Venom. Harrelson stars as killer Cletus Kasady, whom he played in the post-credits scene for the first Venom (2018). This time around, Harrelson’s Kasady transforms into Carnage, a villain known as Venom’s chief antagonist in the comics.
The first Venom, which transformed into an audience favorite despite not-so-great reviews, opened to $80 million domestically on its way to grossing a stellar $850 million globally.
In August, Sony pushed back the film from Sept. 24 to Oct. 15 amid uncertainty over theatergoing and the delta variant. But when Shang-Chi did so well, the studio relocated Venom 2 to Oct. 1.
Venom 2 is hardly the only new offering this weekend.
The Addams Family 2 is being released in theaters and premium on-demand in the U.S. and Canada simultaneously because of ongoing concerns about the delta variant and that kids under 12 can’t be vaccinated. From MGM and Bron Creative, the animated film grossed $5.6 million on Friday for a projected debut in the $16 million range, a solid showing considering it is opening in the home.
The Many Saints of Newark, a Sopranos prequel from Warner Bros. and New Line, also hits the big screen this weekend. The film, like all 2021 Warner titles, is being made available at no extra charge to HBO Max customers. The prequel may top out at less than $6 million in its domestic debut.
Oct. 2, 8:00 a.m. Updated with Friday numbers and revised weekend estimates.
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