The main reason for releasing these new posters for Venom: Let There Be Carnage is simply to have new art/marketing materials displaying the film’s new release date. That it’s exactly two months from today, October 15 (instead of September 24) is something of a happy coincidence. The film pushed back, if only by a few weeks, after rising Delta infections and additional concerns about best-case-scenario box office in the wake of the $25-$35 million debuts of Space Jam 2, Jungle Cruise, The Suicide Squad and Free Guy. To be fair, Jungle Cruise is sticking around and Free Guy only cost $100 million to produce, so every release is a different set of variables. Nonetheless, the other grand purpose of this artwork is to remind you of another recent “monster versus monster” movie.
That first poster on the left is especially reminiscent of some late-in-the-game Godzilla vs. Kong artwork, while the one on the right is a more conventional “two sides of the same coin” sell. The film’s marketing pitch is, of course, not dissimilar from the “send a maniac to catch a maniac” Godzilla Vs. Kong trailer, which sold a Godzilla gone rogue and King Kong being drafted to put him down. That the trailer arrived on the 30th anniversary of The Silence of the Lambs made it extra bemusing. And the tongue-in-cheek (but not quite campy) sell successfully sold the film as a “no prior MonsterVerse knowledge required” rock-n-roll good time, one whose release date bump (from May 21 to March 31) was perfectly timed to catch the first wave of newly vaccinated moviegoers (in newly reopened theaters).
Warner Bros. successfully sold Godzilla Vs. Kong as the almost definitive “first movie back from the dead” blockbuster, creating more excitement for the $165 million monster smackdown than it likely would have generated opening as scheduled on November 20, 2020 sans Covid amid a more crowded marketplace. Cue a $188 million gross in China (the biggest such gross for a non-Marvel/DC/Fast Saga Hollywood flick since Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in summer 2018), a $50 million Wed-Mon Easter debut and a slightly leggy $100 million domestic/$460 million global cume despite it being available in America on HBO Max for the first 31 days. The film’s run was so successful (almost $100 million more than Godzilla: King of the Monsters) than it perhaps set unrealistic expectations for the rest of the year. These posters channel nostalgia for… five months ago.
With Sony selling Hotel Transylvania 4 to Amazon for around $100 million and everyone holding their breath in relation to Spider-Man: Far from Home and No Time to Die, there’s a case to be made that Venom: Let There Be Carnage will try to play a similar role as a kind of “welcome back to normal” theatrical business, with the caveats being that A) we’ve actually had a few months of “big” movies, B) Shang-Chi is very good and C) James Bond 25 is still scheduled for October 8. Andy Serkis’ Venom sequel looks like a lot of fun, with a clear understanding of why Venom earned $854 million worldwide on a $90 million budget in 2018. It may well fill that “smart-stupid” monster fantasy blockbuster escapism hole filled by Godzilla Vs. Kong.
I can’t imagine these art choices are coincidental, even if it would make obvious sense even in normal times to highlight your added-value baddie (Woody Harrelson *as* Carnage!) and the notion of the film’s anti-hero going up against a “bigger suit” antagonist the second time out. Sure, you can argue Riz Ahmed filled that role in the first Venom, but fortunately folks have short memories. “One will fall” almost goes without saying, as it’s clear that Carnage is out there, he’s hurting people and we don’t know why. The world needs (Tom Hardy’s) Venom, Venom bows to no one, etc., etc. Anyway, here’s hoping Venom 2 actually sticks with its October 15 release date, and that Naomie Harris has an excellent October thanks to this flick (where she plays Shriek) and No Time to Die. Sony really needs to just… let them fight.