Venom was the surprise sensation among 2018’s many superhero films (the $100 million project piled up $856 million in global box office) so it’s no surprise at all that Sony’s sequel effort is ramping up: Kelly Marcel, one of the screenwriters on the first film, has been hired to begin writing a follow-up to showcase actor Tom Hardy and his shape-shifting CG alien symbiote.

If all proceeds as hoped, the sequel (which is being produced by Avi Arad, Matt Tolmach, and Amy Pascal and features characters from Marvel Comics) will be in theaters on October 2020 — that’s the date that Sony locked in for an “Untitled Marvel Sequel” back in November. The first film was also. released in an October slot.

Marvel Entertainment

While Marcel’s marching orders for the sequel have been kept quiet all the breadcrumbs lead toward a silver-screen clash between Hardy’s monstrous Venom and his Marvel Comics archenemy, the even-more monstrous Carnage. After all, the first film reunited its director, Ruben Fleischer, with one of his Zombieland stars, Woody Harrelson, for a mid-credits scene that showed the Texas-born actor in the Carnage role.

Venom set an opening-weekend record for October releases with $80.2 million despite mostly bad reviews. Give credit to the visual appeal of the snarling CG title character, which also translated well overseas. The PG-13 movie’s $111 million opening weekend in China in November, for instance, was the largest Sony debut ever in the coveted Asian market.

Sony declined to comment on the sequel, its script or any release dates. The news that the studio ordered up a Marcel script for a sequel was first reported by Variety.

The character Venom was a sensation with Marvel Comics readers in the 1980s when he was introduced in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man by writer David Michelinie and fan-favorite artist Todd McFarlane (who is now in filmmaker mode as a first-time director with Spawn, the Blumhouse project starring Jeremy Renner and Jamie Foxx).

The character reached the big screen in Spider-Man 3, the much-maligned Sam Raimi sequel that pitted Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) against the ebony ooze of Venom/Eddie Brock (Topher Grace). In both the screen versions of Venom he is an abrasive journalist who comes in contact with an extraterrestrial organism that melds to his body to create the toothy super-powered beast called Venom.