China Box Office: 'Venom' Racks Up Record $111 Million Opening

Venom - Still 10 - SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT Publicity- H 2018
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment

The record-breaking haul represents a huge win for Chinese Internet giant Tencent, which has a 25 percent stake in the Sony Pictures tentpole.

Sony's offbeat comic book blockbuster Venom devoured a hearty $111 million during its debut frame in China over the weekend, according to early studio estimates. 

The huge haul brought China's box office roaring back to life after a downbeat fall release cycle, while also setting a slew of local records, including the best all-time opening ever for Sony in China, and the second-best start for a superhero film there, behind only Avengers: Infinity War.

The massive Chinese performance boosts Venom's worldwide total to $673.5 million to date. Los Angeles and Shanghai-based box-office tracker Artisan Gateway had the China opening slightly lower at 101.6 million, however. 

Venom, starring Tom Hardy as the Marvel antihero, earned $10 million of its China total from 553 Imax screens — Sony's biggest opening-weekend performance ever on Imax in the market. It is also Imax's best-ever November opening weekend there.

The impressive haul represents another huge success for both Sony film chief Tom Rothman and Chinese Internet giant Tencent, the latter of which took an uncommonly high 25 percent equity stake in the film. In the weeks leading up to Venom's local release, Tencent rolled out an aggressive digital marketing campaign for the feature across its vast online ecosystem, which includes China's most popular messaging and social media service WeChat, the Netflix-like Tencent Video platform, movie ticking app Maoyan and much more.

Directed by Ruben Fleischer, Venom — also part monster pic — co-stars Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze and Reid Scott.

Finishing in a distant second place, Japanese animation import Detective Conan: Zero the Enforcer, produced by Toho Co., opened to $10.6 million. Although largely overwhelmed by Venom's dominant screen share and fanboy appeal, Zero the Enforcer's healthy showing continues the trend of Japanese studio imports improving their market exposure in China.

Chinese romantic drama Last Letter, meanwhile, opened in third place with $5.4 million. Although China financed and starring an all-Chinese cast, the movie was written and directed by Japanese filmmaker Shunji Iwai.