UPDATE AFTER EXCLUSIVE: Sony has confirmed that Venom: Let There Be Carnage is going on Oct. 15, right up against Universal/Blumhouse’s Halloween Kills. This frees up the calendar in case Sony wants to move Hotel Transylvania 4 to Venom 2‘s old date of Sept 24, however, with concerns over the delta variant, and kids under 12 still not being allowed to be vaccinated, that latter movie’s theatrical fate remains in question. Note, amid all these bad news of delta variants and families, Disney’s Dwayne Johnson Jungle Cruise movie had a better than expected second weekend hold of -55% last weekend; plus that movie also beat opening weekend projections two weeks ago with $35M.
Venom 2 follows in the wake of MGM/UAR’s No Time to Die on Oct. 8 and before Warner Bros/Legendary/HBO Max’s on Oct. 22. For exhibition’s hope, let’s hope theatrical stays this competitive during October.
EXCLUSIVE, 9:28AM: We’re hearing very loud rumblings from exhibition that Sony is poised to relocate Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Hotel Transylvania: Transformania, but in two very different ways.
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In the case of Venom 2, it’s to another destination on the release calendar. First we heard January, then Oct. 15; I hear Sony hasn’t decided what the new date is or whether they’ll continue to stay put on Sept. 24. The problem with Oct. 15 is that Venom 2 would be up against Universal/Blumhouse/Miramax’s Halloween Kills, and in the wake of MGM/UAR’s 007 title No Time to Die on Oct. 8 and Warner Bros./HBO Max’s Dune on Oct. 22. The Andy Serkis-directed Sony/Marvel title is a pure theatrical release as the Culver City lot doesn’t mess around with dynamic windows. The first 2018 movie ultimately charted the second-best opening for October with $80.2M domestic, a $213.5M stateside and $856M WW final (the pic owned the October record for one year prior to the arrival of Warner Bros. Joker). Also, keep in mind, overseas markets continue to be in a greater funk than domestic with various closures and capacity issues.
Hotel Transylvania 4 may be going to streaming. Again, Sony is still figuring out what to do.
With vaccine cards being required at theaters in the NYC market — and possibly soon LA, too — and the under 12 population being unvaccinated, it’s given some distributors with family releases pause. Paramount moved the eOne live-action CGI pic Clifford the Big Red Dog out of 2021, TBD for now.
Hotel Transylvania 4 is currently in a release date pickle: The Sony movie moved out of summer to the first weekend of October where MGM/UAR already has Addams Family 2. A box office face-off for those titles would be a recipe for cannibalization. I’ve heard that Addams Family 2 cannot move due to the fact that the film is tied in with lucrative promotional partners. It’s just not an option for the studio. Sony has an output deal with Netflix, but it’s not an absolute that the streamer is getting Hotel Transylvania 4.
Through three movies, Hotel Transylvania has grossed $1.36 billion worldwide. It’s a big franchise for Sony and if they kept the film threatrical, they’ll need the power of offshore markets to do so.
Nonetheless, we’ll see this weekend how bad these Delta variant headwinds are on the box office this weekend. Should Disney/20th Century Studios’ Free Guy best a $20M start, that’s a very good sign for the U.S./Canada marketplace. However, a start somewhere in the mid-to-high teens is the more prudent projection for the Ryan Reynolds original IP.
But in regards to Venom 2 and Hotel Transylvania 4, stay tuned. Know this, even if Sony keeps the theatrical dates on these movies, it’s par for the course for any Hollywood studio to look at the future calendar and assess their options as we bob and weave throughout this ongoing pandemic.
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