‘Venom 2’ Sinks Its Teeth Into $90 Million Domestic Debut, Shattering Pandemic-Era Record; Bond Soars Overseas While Sopranos Gets Whacked At Home
The first weekend in October usually kicks off the cozy sweater-and-pumpkin spice latte season. But this year, it also signaled the long overdue return of the sort of hand-over-fist blockbusters that dominated the multiplex before the arrival of COVID. Hard on the heels of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ record-setting September, Sony’s supervillain sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, shattered all previous pandemic-era benchmarks with a massive $90.1 million bow in North America, making the case that the Hollywood tentpole is finally back. Further evidence came from abroad, where the latest 007 outing, No Time to Die, bowed to $119 million ahead of its U.S. release next weekend. But it wasn’t all good news: While United Artists’ animated The Addams Family 2 scared up an $18 million domestic debut, Warner Bros.’ much-anticipated Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, got whacked on arrival, pulling in just $5 million as fans said “fuggedaboutit” to seeing their favorite mobsters on the big screen.

Although a Marvel property, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is not technically part of the MCU. Still, that didn’t prevent the PG-13-rated sequel starring Tom Hardy from racking up Marvel-sized numbers in its opening frame. In fact, the follow-up outperformed its pre-pandemic predecessor’s $80.2 million debut in 2018 (the original ultimately grossed $213.5 domestically and $856.1 million worldwide). Venom 2’s record-setting $90.1 million domestic bow beat out the most bullish box-office predictions and was no doubt helped along by the fact that it bypassed streaming and VOD venues and opened exclusively in theaters, where it blew past Black Widow’s $80.4 million launch and Shang-Chi’s $75.4 million initial salvo.

Rolling out in 4,225 theaters, Venom 2 scored a staggering $21,325 per-screen average over the weekend and added another $13.8 million from overseas (it has not yet opened in most international markets yet, including China, where the first Venom grabbed $269 million), bringing its first-week global box-office total to $103.9 million. The film was tepidly reviewed by critics, who gave the sequel a 59% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but audiences were more forgiving with a ‘B+’ grade from CinemaScore. As for Venom 2’s audience, the demographic breakdown revealed that 62% of ticket buyers were male and that 25% were under age 25. No shock there.

Although Venom 2 dominated the box-office headlines, it was far from the only triumph of the weekend. In the runner-up spot, United Artists’ animated sequel The Addams Family 2 also bested expectations, debuting to a kooky and positively spooky $18 million. The PG-rated follow-up to The Addams Family (which bowed to $30.3 million in 2019), features the voices of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, and Chloe Grace Moretz and was also available on premium VOD for $19.99. The ‘toon unspooled in 4,207 theaters and earned a solid $4,280 per-screen average. Although reviewers savaged the film with a 27% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, ticket-buyers gave it a more generous ‘B’ grade from CinemaScore. It has not opened internationally yet.

In third place was Disney’s Shang-Chi, which added $6 million in its fifth weekend in North American theaters. The PG-13 rated superhero sensation starring Simu Liu and Awkwafina dropped off -53.7% from the previous frame, but still managed to push past the $200 million barrier domestically—a lofty plateau whose only other resident is its Marvel stablemate, Black Widow. Playing in 3,455 locations, Shang-Chi received a $1,747 per-screen average, pushing its total domestic haul to $206.1 million. To date, it has also racked up $180.8 million overseas, putting its worldwide cume at $386.9 million.

Licking its wounds in fourth place was Warner Bros.’ Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark, an origin story of the Jersey mobsters whose exploits were chronicled on the hit HBO series. The R-rated film, which stars Michael Gandolfini (the son of the show’s late star James Gandolfini), bowed to $5 million in North America. It also premiered simultaneously on HBO Max, which no doubt took a bite out of its take at the box office. Saints opened in 3,181 locations and scored a $1,571 per-screen average. It padded its anemic haul with an additional $2.3 million from abroad, bringing its first-week worldwide cume to $7.3 million. The film wasn’t done any favors by its soft ‘C+’ grade from CinemaScore, although it did grab a 74% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Rounding out the top five was Universal’s Dear Evan Hansen, which added a little less than $2.5 million in its sophomore frame. The PG-13-rated musical starring Ben Platt nosedived -67.1% from its debut weekend and eked out a $728 per-screen average in 3,364 theaters. Its two-week domestic total now stands at…cue sad trombone…$11.8 million. It has not opened overseas yet.

Speaking of overseas, the biggest development beyond our shores was the early international arrival of Bond…James Bond. Daniel Craig’s 007 swan song No Time to Die finally opened after 18 months of delays and date switches in 54 foreign territories a week ahead of its sure-to-be-huge splashdown in North America. With Universal handling international distribution duties, the 25th super-spy outing pulled in $119 million in its opening weekend. Those receipts were especially impressive considering that No Time to Die’s foreign numbers did not include China—one of 007’s biggest markets—where it bows on October 29. For comparison, the most recent Bond chapter, 2015’s pre-pandemic Spectre, debuted to $123 million internationally. Stay tuned for next week, when No Time to Die finally arrives Stateside. It should be a doozy….