The pandemic moviegoing experience is starting to look more like pre-pandemic moviegoing. Sony Pictures’ Marvel sequel “Venom, Let There Be Carnage” surpassed all expectations and opened with $90.1 million in ticket sales. This was, according to studio estimates, the biggest pandemic opening.
“Venom, Let There Be Carnage” was expected to open with less than half of that amount. The film is exclusively playing in theaters and has exceeded the debut of the 2018 version. The “Spider-Man” sequel “Venom”, which introduced Tom Hardy’s parasitic alien symbiote to the world, was launched with $80.3million. The largest October opening was for “Joker”, which cost $96.2 million.
This result, along with strong international sales of the James Bond movie “No Time to Die” was the most encouraging news for movie theatres in over 18 months.
“With sincere apologies for Mr. Twain: The death movies has been greatly exaggerated,” Tom Rothman (chairman and chief executive of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group) stated in a statement.
MGM’s “No Time to Die” and “Let There Be Carnage”, were originally set to open in theaters last year. Both studios (neither has a major streaming service) believed that the best box-office returns would be achieved by releasing exclusive films in theaters. Their wait was worth it over the weekend.
“No Time to Die” opened in North America Friday with $119.1million in 54 markets. According to MGM/Universal Pictures, the pace was similar to that of “Skyfall,” which opened in North America on Friday. “No Time to Die” grossed $25.6million in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The film’s Saturday opening of $11.4 million was its best-ever box office day on home soil.
Before “Let There Be Carnage”, the top pandemic openings were Walt Disney’s “Black Widow”, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” and Universal Pictures’ “Fast and Furious 2” sequel “F9” (both $70 million). “Black Widow” was launched simultaneously in homes, which prompted a lawsuit by Scarlett Johansson . This case was finally settled last week. Only theaters were able to debut “Shang-Chi,” F9, and “Let There Be Carnage”.
Josh Greenstein, president and CEO of Sony Motion Pictures Group, stated that films can only be cultural if people watch them together on the best screens. “You cannot replicate that experience at home.”
Sony actually delayed the release of “Venom 2,” which was directed by Andy Serkis, and co-starred Woody Harrelson in the role of Venom foe Carnage by two weeks. It also received $13.8 million from Russia.
“We were able to see the health of Shanghai-Chi and that gave us confidence that the box office would return when the product is available,” stated Adrian Smith, Sony’s distribution chief. “It’s very affirming to see the demand theatricality.”
Some things are not bouncing back quickly in theaters, such as Marvel movies or the most famous brands. As is the case with ticket sales at art houses theaters, family moviegoing is slow. Families with older children and those without vaccinated kids have been more cautious.
“The Addams Family 2,” an animated sequel by MGM and United Artists Releasing opened to $18 million, despite poor reviews (27% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes). The sequel to the 2019 cartoon reboot was also released simultaneously on video-on demand.
“The Many Saints of Newark”, the long-awaited prequel to “The Sopranos”, failed. The film was co-written by creator of “The Sopranos”, David Chase, and opened with $5 million. Like all Warner Bros. films in 2021 it was also available on HBO Max for subscribers, a practice Chase and other filmmakers have decried. The studio promised to return to theatrical windows in 2022.
Julia Ducournau’s Titane, Palme d’Or Winner at this summer’s Cannes Film Festival, was also unsuccessful in getting into theaters. The film, about a serial killer woman who has a special bond with automobiles, earned $516,000 in 562 theatres for Neon.
Spectacle movies, especially those that appeal to young men, have driven a larger percentage of moviegoing this year. ‘s Marvel’s “Shang-Chi”, the studio’s first movie featuring an Asian super hero, has been the most popular in the last month. It was previously the No. 1 film for four consecutive weeks. This weekend, “Shang-Chi”, the first domestic film to surpass $200 million, made a total of $206.1 million in the U.S., Canada and $386.9 millions globally.
The recovery is also being driven by large format screens. IMAX Entertainment had its most successful October weekend ever, with $30 million in worldwide sales. Megan Colligan of IMAX Entertainment called it a proof of “what today’s box office can do.”
Colligan stated that while the perception might be that these films are performing well, the truth is that many people underestimate the excitement of global consumers to go back to the movies.
According to Comscore, Friday through Sunday ticket sales were estimated at U.S. theaters and Canadian theatres. Monday will see the release of final domestic figures.
1. “Venom: Let There be Carnage”, $90.1 million
2. 1. “The Addams Family 2,” $18 Million
3. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” $6 Million
4. “The Many Saints of Newark”, $5 million
5. “Dear Evan Hansen,” $2.5 million
6. 2.28 Million for “Free Guy”
7. “Candyman”, $1.2 Million
9. “The Jesus Music,” $560,000
10. “Titane,” $516,000