In a clear sign that Shang-Chi’s $90 million Fri-Mon Labor Day weekend debut was “good enough for Hollywood,” Sony has just announced that they will be moving Venom: Let There Be Carnage. But wait, don’t panic (like Sony arguably did)!
Sony indeed arguably panicked after The Suicide Squad stumbled with a $26 million debut last month and pushed the Tom Hardy/Woody Harrelson/Michelle Williams/Naomie Harris superhero sequel from September 24 to October 15. And now, with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings tripling the previous Labor Day weekend record, you’re going to see the Andy Serkis-directed and Kelly Marcel-written Venom flick in theaters not on October 15 but on October 1.
Yup, just as Sony “reacted” to the better-than-hoped performances of Godzilla vs. Jerry and Tom & Kong (sorry, not changing that, because, admit it, you’d all watch the hell out of either of those movies) by moving Peter Rabbit: The Runaway up to May (before moving it to July to replace Minions 2 and then back to June), the rock-solid opening of Shang-Chi has resulted in Sony’s own would-be tentpole shifting upwards on the release schedule.
That’s three years to the weekend of the first Venom’s boffo $80 million domestic debut in 2018. It’s also one year to the weekend of when the Venom 2 was supposed to open in 2020. Venom broke out two years ago despite mixed-negative reviews and frankly years of bad buzz, as the project had a long stench of “cinematic universe at all costs” desperation even after Amazing Spider-Man combusted and Peter Parker joined the MCU.
And, honestly, the movie we got isn’t all that great. However, it had a bonkers-bananas Tom Hardy star turn that was part Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean and part Chris Klein in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, a refreshingly stand-alone sensibility and it got better as it went along, ending with the film fully embracing not the grimdark ethos but rather a genuine camp sensibility.
And even with a darker, scarier villain in Carnage, that seems to be how Venom 2 is being sold. I won’t pretend that Venom: Let There Be Carnage was a sure thing to match Venom’s $214 million domestic, $269 million Chinese and $854 million global totals even in a non-Covid timeline. While folks did like the first film (so I’m not worried about a Tomb Raider Trap) and the marketing for this one has been aces (my kids are psyched), there was/is a danger of the whole “folks were only curious the first time” variable.
And with Covid, climate change and everything else at play, we could still see a scenario where Venom 2 “only” earns about as much worldwide (say, $350-$450 million) as we all thought Venom would three years ago. The first film cost $90 million, so if this one didn’t break the bank than that would still be okay.
As far as release date musical chairs, this means that I guess Dune won’t be shifting back to October 1, even with mixed-positive festival buzz/reviews and strong Oscar talk at least in the technical categories. That said, it means that Dune won’t be dealing with a “just came out” Venom sequel while Jackass Forever just fled to February 2022.
Halloween Kills is opening mostly unopposed on October 15, and No Time to Die will have a little competition a little sooner when it opens overseas in late September and in North America on October 8. Oh, and for what it’s worth, it also means that Shang-Chi has one less week to be the only game in town in terms of four-quadrant tentpole thrills, but that’s the price of success.
Anyway, that’s the news. Venom: Let There Be Carnage will now open in conventional, PLF and IMAX theaters on October 1. Tickets will go on sale this Wednesday. Maybe, just maybe, the problem with The Suicide Squad and Snake Eyes were, at least commercially speaking, at least partially about The Suicide Squad and Snake Eyes.