WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Venom: Let There Be Carnage Powers to Pandemic-Best $90.1M Opening Ahead of Addams Family 2 ($18M) & Many Saints of Newark ($5M)

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Venom: Let There Be Carnage ruled the first weekend of October with a supersized debut that effectively shattered the pandemic-era opening weekend record previously set by Black Widow ($80.37M). Meanwhile, two other wide releases – The Addams Family 2 and The Many Saints of Newark, both day-and-date – opened more quietly further down the chart, to mixed results.

Opening on 4,225 screens, Venom: Let There Be Carnage blasted past all expectations with an estimated $90.1M, the best opening during the pandemic by far and the second largest-opening ever in October behind only Joker ($96.2M). The film won the weekend thanks in large part to strong appeal with the young male demographic that turned out for the first Venom – a demo that has also shown the greatest eagerness to return to theaters – as well as pent-up demand for a tentpole film nearly a month after Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings debuted to $75.39M over the three-day Labor Day frame. Not to mention, the film opened exclusively in theaters, giving fans no choice but to see it on the big screen – something they were clearly intent on doing this weekend.

Listen to analysis of Venom: Let There Be Carnage‘s record-breaking weekend, as well as part two of the Boxoffice Podcast’s discussion of CineEurope, in this week’s episode:

Let There Be Carnage soared past the opening weekend gross of first Venom, which took in $80.3M in October 2018. That stood as the largest 3-day debut ever in October until it was knocked from its perch by Joker the following year. It’s worth noting that the first Venom had an advantage over its sequel in that it debuted over a holiday weekend, with its Sunday gross boosted by Indigenous Peoples’ Day that Monday. That comparison only makes Let There Be Carnage’s feat this weekend even more impressive.

Just like the first Venom, Let There Be Carnage proved largely review-proof. While critics were somewhat kinder to the sequel than its predecessor (47% to 30% on Rotten Tomatoes, respectively), both have scored over 80% on the review aggregator’s Audience Score metric, indicating widespread satisfaction among those who turned out.

“We are so grateful to Tom, Andy, Kelly and all of the many gifted contributors who made such a unique and fun film,” said Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group Chairman and CEO Tom Rothman in a statement, specifically shouting out star Tom Hardy, director Andy Serkis, and screenwriter Kelly Marcel. “We are also pleased that patience and theatrical exclusivity have been rewarded with record results. With apologies to Mr. Twain: The death of movies has been greatly exaggerated.”

On the exhibitor front, Cinemark recorded its highest single-day gross of the pandemic on Friday (October 1) and is on track to score its largest October opening weekend of all time with the super/anti-hero sequel.  

Venom: Let There be Carnage really resonated with our moviegoers, and they came out in droves to see the film theatrically during its opening weekend,” Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi told Boxoffice Pro. He added, “This is another strong example that people want and need to get out of their homes for an immersive entertainment experience.  Congratulations to our partners at Sony and all the talent involved on delivering such a fantastic film for our moviegoers to see exclusively in a movie theater.”

Also notable was Let There Be Carnage’s contribution to IMAX’s biggest global October weekend of all time, with the format seeing a record $30M this weekend thanks to both Venom and the sizzling international debut of No Time to Die (more on that below and in our more in-depth analysis here). The former film also scored the record for the highest opening in the format domestically since the start of the pandemic ($8.6M from 402 screens) as well as the third-highest ever in October in North America.

Let There Be Carnage big opening effectively bolsters it for the stacked weeks ahead, where the film is facing stiff competition from a number of highly anticipated titles. Next weekend, the long-awaited, sure-to-be-massive James Bond installment No Time to Die – which marks Daniel Craig’s final turn as the character – debuts, while the following weekend will see the release of Halloween Kills (though that film is debuting day-and-date on the Peacock streaming service, which should significantly diminish its theatrical performance). Finally, the sci-fi epic Dune, which received strong advance buzz out of the Venice Film Festival, hits theaters on Oct. 22. In other words, the runway for Let There Be Carnage is far shorter than it was for Shang-Chi, which had virtually the entire month of September to itself. Nonetheless, the Venom sequel should finish its North American run with a healthy total that approaches the first film’s $213.11M tally – an impressive feat for these pandemic times.

In second place was United Artists/MGM’s The Addams Family 2, which opened in second place with an estimated $18M from 4,207 screens. That’s significantly lower than the $30.3M opening enjoyed by the first installment two Octobers ago; but of course, that film opened before the pandemic and exclusively in theaters, whereas the sequel was available to watch at home for families with children who have yet to be vaccinated – understandably one of the demos most hesitant to return to the multiplex. Reviews were even worse than those for the first installment (27% on Rotten Tomatoes), but, with Addams Family 2 benefitted from a relative dearth of family-friendly titles to choose from in theaters over the past few months, effectively satisfying a pent-up demand. The studio notes that the sequel scored the biggest theatrical opening for a day-and-date animated family film during the pandemic, surpassing The Boss Baby: Family Business’ $16M. (Read our interview with Addams Family 2 director Conrad Vernon here.)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings fell from its No. 1 perch to third place in its fifth weekend of release. The Marvel title, which recently became the highest-grossing film of the pandemic to date, took in an estimated $6M, bringing its total to a sensational $206.1M.

The final new wide release of the weekend, The Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark, debuted to a rather limp $5M from 3,181 screens in fourth place. The Warner Bros. release may have been hampered somewhat by its small-screen origins, with many audiences who watched the original series on HBO likely opting to stream this companion piece on the HBO Max platform. Reviews were also likely a factor in the somewhat muted theatrical turnout. While they came in on the mixed-to-positive side (74% on Rotten Tomatoes), fans expecting a masterpiece on par with the original series may have opted to forgo paying a premium to see it in theaters when confronted with the decent-but-not-glowing notices. (Read our interview with Many Saints of Newark director Alan Taylor here.)

After taking in a disappointing $7.44M last weekend in its debut, Universal’s Dear Evan Hansen tumbled 68% to an estimated $2.4M, giving the Broadway musical adaptation a total of just $11.7M after 10 days of release.

Sixth place went to Free Guy, which took in an estimated $2.28M in its eighth weekend of release. The total for the Ryan Reynolds action-comedy is now $117.63M in North America.

Candyman finished at No. 7 with an estimated $1.2M, giving the horror sequel/reboot a total of $58.9M after six weeks of release. Behind that in eighth place was Disney’s Jungle Cruise, which grossed an estimated $680k in its tenth weekend of release, giving the theme park ride adaptation $116.06M to date.

Opening at No. 9 in limited release was Lionsgate and Kingdon Story Company’s The Jesus Music, a documentary about the rise of contemporary Christian music, which grossed an estimated $560k from just 249 screens. With a per-screen average of $2,249, the film seems to have pretty effectively tapped the faith-based audience.

Rounding out the top 10 was the Cannes Palme D’Or winner Titane, which opened to an estimated $516k from 562 screens. The NEON-distributed body-horror film may have benefitted from curiosity around its bizarre premise, which concerns a woman with a sexually-charged fascination with automobiles.

OVERSEAS

In a powerful overseas debut, No Time to Die (distributed by both Universal and MGM internationally) exploded with an estimated $119.1M across 54 markets, making it the first-ever MPA title to open north of $100M without China. The studio reports that in like-for-like markets at current exchange rates, the 25th Bond film – and the last starring Daniel Craig – debuted in line with Skyfall and 17% below Spectre excluding previews. The sequel did particularly well in the U.K. and Ireland (where it’s taken in $25.6M after just three days of release, the highest of the pandemic in the country to date) and Germany, where it took in an estimated $14.7M, the largest opening of the pandemic there by far. You can check out our full analysis of the film’s overseas performance here.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage opened in a single international territory, Russia, with an estimated $13.8M. That counts as Sony Pictures’ highest opening of all time in the country and the largest of the pandemic era. The sequel expands to Latin America next weekend.

Dune crossed the $100M mark overseas this weekend with an estimated $13.7M from 32 markets, a 49% drop from last weekend. The top-grossing markets for the sci-fi adaptation to date are France ($18.6M), Russia ($18.1M) and Germany ($13.4M).

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings took in an estimated $8.3M from 42 markets, a drop of 43% from last weekend’s overseas gross. Its international total currently stands at $180.8M – not including China, where the film has yet to open — while its global gross is $386.9M.


Studio Weekend Estimates: October 1-3, 2021

Title Estimated weekend % change Locations Location change Average Total Weekend Distributor
Venom: Let There be Carnage $90,100,000   4,225   $21,325 $90,100,000 1 Sony Pictures
The Addams Family 2 $18,007,000   4,207   $4,280 $18,007,000 1 United Artists
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings $6,037,000 -54% 3,455 -497 $1,747 $206,108,802 5 Walt Disney
The Many Saints of Newark $5,000,000   3,181   $1,572 $5,000,000 1 Warner Bros.
Dear Evan Hansen $2,450,000 -67% 3,364 n/c $728 $11,800,365 2 Universal
Free Guy $2,278,000 -45% 2,545 -630 $895 $117,627,530 8 20th Century Studios
Candyman $1,230,000 -52% 1,745 -811 $705 $58,902,560 6 Universal
Jungle Cruise $680,000 -61% 1,375 -690 $495 $116,063,358 10 Walt Disney
The Jesus Music $560,250   249   $2,250 $560,250 1 Lionsgate
Titane $515,747   562   $918 $515,747 1 Neon
PAW Patrol: The Movie $420,000 -64% 749 -1,246 $561 $39,634,210 7 Paramount
The Eyes of Tammy Faye $236,000 -62% 985 -367 $240 $2,105,515 3 Searchlight Pictures
The Card Counter $65,000 -78% 389 -350 $167 $2,622,730 4 Focus Features
I’m Your Man $47,805 45% 51 35 $937 $93,564 2 Bleecker Street
Black Widow $26,000 -77% 100 -150 $260 $183,628,321 13 Walt Disney
Old $25,000 -77% 176 -231 $142 $48,208,010 11 Universal
The Boss Baby: Family Business $20,000 -53% 344 -47 $58 $57,256,850 14 Universal
The Night House $20,000 -69% 85 -45 $235 $7,080,455 7 Searchlight Pictures
F9 $3,000 -84% 57 -212 $53 $173,002,205 15 Universal

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