‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’ Headlines Busy Weekend At The Box Office
September was month of extremes at the box office, with both the highest grossing film of the year and the lowest grossing weekend since May. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the first Marvel movie to open in September, and the gambit paid off, with the film crossing the gross of Black Widow to become the year’s number one movie, and it will soon overtake Bad Boys for Life to become the top grossing film since 2019. Other than Shang-Chi, though, the box office has been a total wasteland, with the next best opening weekend gross this month being Dear Evan Hansen’s meager $7.4 million. The dry spell is ending though, and after a rocky summer, the packed fall movie season is starting with a bang this weekend with Venom: Let There Be Carnage, The Many Saints of Newark, and The Addams Family 2, not to mention the international debut of No Time To Die.

Picking up where 2018’s Venom left off, Venom: Let There Be Carnage sees Tom Hardy return as Eddie Brock, the reporter who becomes the host of the Venom symbiote. Venom opened to $80 million three years ago in the same early October weekend slot, going on to gross $213.5 million in the U.S. and $856.1 million worldwide. Matching the original’s opening would put the sequel in the league of Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and F9: The Fast Saga, which seems unlikely. It has a a lot going for it, though, being the first major release in nearly a month, being theatrical exclusive, and having much better reviews than the original (67% on Rotten Tomatoes compared to 30%), all giving it a good shot of becoming the fourth best opener of the year, (the number to beat is A Quiet Place Part II’s $47.5 million opening). Most of the film’s international rollout will come later in October, and it does not have a release date in China, which was the original film’s biggest market with $269.2 million.

Venom 2 is directed by everyone’s favorite motion-capture-actor-turned-director Andy Serkis, and it is the second film in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe (SSU). Michelle Williams returns, and Woody Harrelson joins the cast as Cletus Kasady, the serial killer who becomes the host of the symbiote Carnage. More Spidey villain films are on the way. The next SSU film is Morbius, with Jared Leto playing the vampire Mark Morbius in his first film appearance. The film is slated for January 28, 2022, and a Kraven the Hunter film starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson is scheduled for 2023.

Also opening is United Artists’ The Addams Family 2, going to theaters day-and-date with its premium VOD release, available to rent for $19.99. Directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon return, as does the star-studded voice cast which includes Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Snoop Dogg, and Bette Midler. The film comes two years after the original, which grossed $30.3 million in its opening weekend. This year’s biggest animated film so far has been The Boss Baby: Family Business, which opened to $16 million in July, only around one-third of the original Boss Baby’s opening weekend, though it should be noted the sequel was also available to watch on the Peacock streaming service. A similar drop off the original would put Addams Family 2 at roughly $10 million, but it is possible that parents have grown more comfortable taking their kids to the movies since July.

We are surprisingly seeing greater traffic on IMDb for The Many Saints of Newark than we are for Venom 2. The Sopranos prequel stars Michael Gandolfini, son of James Gandolfini, playing a young Tony Soprano, the role that launched his father into the limelight. It also stars Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., and Jon Bernthal. Fan interest is clearly high, but the question is whether that will translate to box office success for a film that is also available on HBO Max and is part of a series that audiences only ever watched at home. There’s been a slump amongst the recent theatrical/HBO Max day and date releases, with the past three films (Cry Macho, Malignant, and Reminiscence) all opening to under $6 million despite the big names in front of and behind the camera.

Most significant of the limited release films is Titane, this year’s Palme d'Or winner at Cannes. Neon is distributing the Julia Ducournau directed body-horror film, which is only the second film from a female director to win the Palme. Shout! Factory is releasing Old Henry, a western starring Tim Blake Nelson which premiered at Venice. From Lionsgate is The Jesus Music, a documentary about the rise of contemporary Christian music. It is directed by the Erwin Brothers who have had success with faith-based films, most notably 2018’s I Can Only Imagine, which grossed $83.5 million.

As eventful as the domestic box office is looking this weekend, the big box-office story may be overseas. While Americans will have to wait one more week for the return of 007, No Time To Die begins its international rollout this week, including in the U.K., Germany, Italy, Spain, South Korea, Japan, Brazil, and Mexico. On its Thursday opening day in the U.K. and Ireland it grossed an estimated $6.2 to $6.8 million. This is around 13% ahead of Spectre’s Monday opening and 26% behind Skyfall’s Friday opening. While the different days of the week make it hard to compare the grosses directly, it appears that the pandemic has not hurt the film. The swan song for Daniel Craig as James Bond follows a strong international showing for Dune, which grossed a total of $77 million after its second weekend.