Get ready for Venom 3. Over the weekend, Venom: Let There Be Carnage had the biggest U.S. box office opening of the pandemic era, which probably means a sequel is on the way — even if Sony hasn’t gotten around to announcing it yet.
The sequel to 2018’s Venom sequel earned over $90 million in its first weekend, way over Sony’s conservative $40 million estimate. It’s also higher than Marvel cousins, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which opened to $75 million, and Black Widow, which opened with $80 million. The premiere even beat out the original movie’s $80 million opening weekend, which took place before the entire industry caved in.
Netting this kind of success for Let There Be Carnage was a judgment game for Sony. The studio juggled the movie’s released date half a dozen times, starting with its first release date of Oct. 2, 2020. The studio then pushed the movie to June 25, 2021, then back again to Sept. 17, then Sept. 24, and next Oct. 15. Then, in a particularly surprising move, Sony actually moved the release date forward to Oct. 1, where its successful run ultimately began.
Venom 2’s massive success is great news for Sony, but also part of a rising tide. In the past few weeks, both No Time to Die, the upcoming James Bond movie, and Dune, one of the year’s most anticipated blockbusters, opened overseas and have already raked in over $100 million at the international box office. While neither movie has opened in the US yet, the two studio tentpoles — along with Let There Be Carnage — provide some hope that audiences are warming back up to the idea of seeing movies in theaters.
Of course, even with these positive signs, there are still questions about the theatrical business. For one thing, indie movies are still in a complicated spot. Titane, the winner of the top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, also opened this weekend in over 500 theaters (Venom 2 opened in over 4,000 for context) and made just $515,747. A few years ago, a movie like Titane may have opened in three or four theaters before steadily building word of mouth. The film’s distributor, NEON, played that game with Parasite to the tune of $53 million. Now Titane is opening in a fraction of theaters in a more aggressive comparison — and maybe not pulling through like indie-film fans would hope. For comparison, earlier this year Pig opened at around $900,000 in a similar number of theaters.
Another looming concern, at least for WarnerMedia, is how much Dune can make at the U.S. box office when premiering on HBO Max subscribers for free. While many have suggested that this kind of simultaneous release can hinder theatrical performance — and Warner Bros. Pictures’ Sopranos spinoff film The Many Saints of Newark all but bombed this weekend with $5 million — Dune may be the best test yet of whether those theories hold water. A proper “part two” could also hinge on people opting out of the HBO Max option.
But while a third Venom seems almost guaranteed, we may see the Eddie and his Symbiote friend on-screen even sooner. Without spoiling the specifics, Let There Be Carnage’s mid-credits scene certainly teased the Venom could be headed to another universe, and maybe even another heroes’ third movie later this year.