Sunday AM Final w/chart: Sony, which has been overly cautious and conservative in its projections for Venom: Let There Be Carnage, always had a hit on their hands. The Marvel sequel easily scored the best domestic opening at the box office with $90.1M, exceeding the previous pandemic U.S./Canada debut of Black Widow, which was $80.8M.
Not only that, but the Sony/Marvel movie exceeded the original 2018 title’s opening of $80.2M by 12%, amazing for a sequel to best its first chapter’s grosses during a pandemic.
Even though Sony has sent movies straight to streamers to financially survive during the pandemic, when it comes to whatever titles they’re releasing in theaters, they’re bullish about the theatrical window. Venom 2 is a win for them and the industry in regards to that business philosophy. Black Widow went day-and-date in cinemas on the Disney+ Premier PVOD tier.
“For us, Venom: Let There Be Carnage absolutely validates our exclusive theatrical window strategy,” said Sony President, Motion Pictures Group Josh Greenstein. “If you look at the history of theatrical, the obituaries have been written many times, and they’ve always been wrong. We had confidence in the theatrical experience, confidence in our big valuable IP, and took full advantage and had the patience to weather all of this. That strategy is paying off, which we’re happy about. It’s a nice validation of the theatrical strategy.”
Venom 2‘s opening here in the US and Canada, while the highest we’ve seen during the pandemic, is the second-best ever for the month of October, behind Warner Bros/Village Roadshow/Bron’s Joker ($96.2M).
Beamed Tom Rothman, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures’ Motion Picture Group, “We are so grateful to Tom, Andy, Kelly and all of the many gifted contributors who made such a unique and fun film. We are also pleased that patience and theatrical exclusivity have been rewarded with record results. With apologies to Mr. Twain: The death of movies has been greatly exaggerated.”
Venom 2‘s Saturday is $31.6M, -15% from Friday/Thursday previews total of $37.29M, and Sunday is projected to be $21.2M. Imax, PLFs and 3D are repping 64% of the pic’s gross with Cinemark’s XD seeing the strongest October performance of all-time. Imax reports that Venom 2 drew $9.6M WW, $8.6M of that from 402 screens stateside and the large format exhibitor’s best domestic opening during the pandemic and third-best ever for October.
Sony’s Venom 2 wasn’t the only film raining cash on exhibition, but MGM/United Artists Releasing’s Addams Family 2 put up a great $18M at 4,207 theaters, even though it was available in homes on PVOD for a 48-hour rental at $19.99. For a pure animation film geared at families (not hybrid), that’s the biggest opening during the pandemic.
“This shows that family audiences having a willingness and readiness to come to theaters,” said United Artists Releasing Distribution Boss Erik Lomis, “The film played to families in the West, Middle America and Southwest.” In addition, it was a diverse turnout for the family sequel with close to half the audience being Latino/Hispanic and Black. Through out it all with rival family film Hotel Transylvania 4 (before it left) and Venom 2 dating on it, Addams Family 2 stuck to its release date.
Early figures show that because of Venom 2 and Addams Family 2, total ticket sales are at $128M, -15% from the same weekend in 2019, per Comscore. EntTelligence reports that over 10M people –the most ever during the pandemic in a given weekend– put the remote control down and got out of the living room to see one of the of the top ten movies this weekend, with over 70% watching Venom 2.
“Venom: Let There be Carnage is a box office sensation. This film really resonated with our moviegoers, delivering results that significantly outpace the industry performance, and set multiple all-time Cinemark records, including the largest-ever October box office weekend,” exclaimed Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi in a statement. “This is another strong example that people want and need to get out of their homes for an immersive entertainment experience. Congratulations to our partners at Sony and all the talent involved on delivering such a fantastic film for our moviegoers to see exclusively in a movie theatre.”
While Sony decided only a month ago after seeing the success of Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings over Labor Day weekend to push Venom 2 from its most recent release date of Oct. 15 to Oct. 1 after dropping posters which already had the older dates on them, full praise to their marketing department for being relentless in pivoting their campaign and seeing fruits such as this bear forth from it.
Changing the release date of a major motion picture event over several times during a short period as the pic comes closer to its opening date sounds like a recipe for disaster. By doing so, how can you ensure the moviegoing audience knows when the movie is coming out? But in the case of Venom 2, moviegoers were clearly keeping watch. The hot word of mouth obviously got out that the sequel was in theaters: Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak shows that only 19% of the audience bought their tickets in advance (by either a week or month ago), indicating that Venom 2 received a bulk of walk-up business over the last three days. Sixty-six percent of those who watched the Sony sequel bought their ticket day of, while 15% bought their tickets the day prior. On PostTrak, they enjoyed the movie at 4 stars.
“We were able to move quickly and nimble. We have a very, very fast-moving organization and can change plans very quickly and in this case were able to launch over a shorter period, it’s a credit to the movie and the organization,” says Greenstein about responding to moviegoers’ prompt return to cinemas during the pandemic, and Venom 2‘s marketing strategy.
“We’re thrilled that the strategy worked. We moved this movie multiple times, and it goes to show if you create an event, as long as you capture it, as long as you create a cultural event. In fact, releasing movies in theaters allows you to do that. If you release movies on streaming, it doesn’t have the same kind of cultural impact,” adds Greenstein.
In regards to the most influential piece of marketing for Venom 2, those polled by PostTrak said it was mostly the trailer on YouTube (20%) followed by the pic’s trailer in theater (14%), social media/celebrity endorsement of the pic (13%), friends and family recommending (10%) and the online trailer (10%). That social media/celebrity endorsement is important to note.
Part of Sony’s push were “Venomizatios” with over 75 celebrities and influencers around the world promoting Venom on social with custom animation GIFs, including Jimmy Kimmel. NFL player George Kittle starred in a popular ESPN promo as Eddie and Venom’s new roommate, hosted his own screening, and did a social post where he was turned into Carnage.
Sony made Sept. 27, Venom Day, and celebrated the Marvel protagonist with social posts, publicity activity, a real-time ‘get roasted by Venom’ Twitter activation, vignette and clip releases, and social initiatives, culminating in stunted fan screenings with intros by Tom Hardy (taped) and director Andy Serkis and resultant reaction initiatives and ads. Sony also screened the movie around the world starting early in the UK (Sept 13) followed by NY, LA and other major markets around the world.
“We let the fans see the movie first which was a bit of a gamble. But it’s their first reactions out there in the world and it’s what got people going. We had the confidence that they’d love the movie and used all that social sentiment starting with the first UK screening two weeks ago to last Monday screenings in NY and LA. We really let the fans carry us though,” adds Greenstein.
Sony also reached out to their immediate PlayStation demos launching an exclusive sneak peek “The Birth of Carnage” which has been watched over 7M times and counting.
Drilling down the moviegoer response to Venom 2, PostTrak reports that 43% of those who attended came out as the sequel was part of a franchise they enjoyed, 40% came for the genre/plot, 25% came with a friend who wanted to see it, 23% heard the sequel was good, while 21% came out for star Hardy, 21% for the entire cast, and only 10% because of film reviews.
Warner Bros./New Line’s Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark came in below what was spotted yesterday with $5M at 3,181 theaters. I’d be curious what the business on this film would be without HBO Max. True: the older adult demo is going to be very slow to come back versus the 18-34 crowd (who showed up at 64% for Venom 2), however, this feature from Sopranos architect David Chase, who co-wrote and produced, was dogged by bad word of mouth at C+. Still, we can’t wait to see any kind of HBO Max viewership figures for this film and whether the streamer exploits this movie further by creating a Sopranos prequel limited series. Who wouldn’t want to watch that at home? Some might say that it would have helped that the word Sopranos was in the title, however, until we’re mask-less, and it’s really safe, can we expect older audiences to come out.
How Addams Family 2 snapped up theatergoers
United Artists Releasing had a big promotional partner campaign for the animated sequel including a TV spot and social media from Progressive insurance; the ad re-writing the classics Addams Family theme song. There was also a TV spot from Realtor.com, the biggest real estate website in the U.S. with the iconic spooky family’s home and Realtor’s “To Each Their Home” campaign. GO RVing launched an integrated marketing campaign to inspire RV travel that takes family and friends on unforgettable adventures – just like the Addams family. Go RVing produced a commercial in Wyoming using RVs to recreate the famous “Snap Snap Song”. The Kellogg Company created The Addams Family 2-inspired limited-edition cereal and snacks across such products as Apple Jacks, Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, On the Go JumboSnax, Pop Tarts Bites and Rice Krispies with custom character artwork on millions of packages. Other partners included Goodwill with a TV spot and in-store promotions for the film at 3K locations. There was also Ibotta, the cashback app with 40M registered users at 500K retailers, which teamed with UAR on an all-family promotional event centered around Ibotta’s Halloween CPG and retail program via TV spots and social media pushes. Addams Family 2 was also splashed on millions of packages of Tombstone pizza. Other partners included Menchie’s, Valpak and Dracula Citrus and GSTV.
UAR trailered the pic across Space Jam: A New Legacy, Jungle Cruise and Paw Patrol, with on-screen content reaching over 25K screens. Theater circuits promoted through paid and organic social, push notifications, homepage web banners, eblasts and app inclusion. There was a fall candy promotion with AMC, RV AR driving activations with Regal, Cinemark Icee Promotion and in theater concessions.
The chart for Oct. 1-3, 2021:
1.) Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony) 4,225 Theaters Fri $37.2M/St $31.6M/Sun $21.2/3-day $90.1M/Wk 1
2.) The Addams Family 2 (UAR) 4,207 theaters Fri $5.6M/Sat $7M/Sun $5.4M/3-day $18M/Wk 1
3.) Shang-Chi (Dis) 3,455 (-497) theaters Fri $1.62M / Sat $2.77M/Sun $1.63M/3-day $6M (-54%), Total: $206.1M/Wk 5
4.) The Many Saints of Newark (NL) 3,181 theaters Fri $2.1M, Sat $1.67M/Sun $1.25M/3-day $5M/Wk 1
5.) Dear Evan Hansen (Uni) 3,364 theaters Fri $740K/ Sat $1.05M/Sun $660K/ 3-day $2.45M (-67%), Total: $11.8M/Wk 2
6.) Free Guy (20th/Dis) 2,545 (-630) theaters Fri $611K / Sat $1.07M/Sun $599K/3-day $2.27M (-45%), Total: $117.6M/Wk 8
7.) Candyman (Uni) 1,745 (-811) theaters Fri $350K / Sat $570K/Sun $310K/ 3-day $1.23M (-52%), Total: $58.9M/Wk 6
8.) Jungle Cruise (Dis) 1,375 (-690) theaters Fri $171K/Sat $329K/Sun $180K, 3-day: $680K (-61%)/Total: $116M/Wk 10
9.) Chal Mera Putt 3 (RBE) 90 theaters Fri $210K/Sat $230K/Sun $203K, 3-day: $644K/Wk 1
10.) The Jesus Music (LG) 249 theaters Fri $244K/Sat $174K/Sun $142,2K, 3-day: $560,2K/Wk 1
Titane (NEON) 562 theaters Fri $223K/Sat $173K/Sun $119K, 3-day, $515,7K/Wk 1
Eyes of Tammy Faye (Sea) 985 (-367) theaters Fri $73K / Sat $100K/Sun $63K/3-day $236K (-62%), Total: $2.1M/Wk 3
Greenwich opened Robert Yapkowitz and Richard Peete’s Karen Dalton: In My Own Time, a bio doc of the legendary ’60-’70s’ era folk/blues singer and poète maudit at NYC’s Film Forum on Friday. Long a favorite of music cognoscenti and favorite peer of Bob Dylan in the early ’60’s Greenwich Village folk scene, the documentary is moving on to select coffeehouses in the weeks to come and start TVOD and DVD beginning Nov 16. The pic on one screen made $6K.
Next week Greenwich has NatGeo’s The Rescue, the follow-up to the Oscar winning hit doc Free Solo by Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, about the Thai cave rescue of 2018 by a team of international divers, in exclusive runs in NYC, LA and Chicago. October 15 sees a week 2 moderate expansion to 400 runs.
Saturday AM Update: If there were any exhibitors out there who were irate about Sony sending nine of their movies straight to streamers and skipping theaters during the pandemic, consider this weekend’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage as a big, wet kiss and make-up.
The “In Association With Marvel” sequel (as it’s billed in the opening credits) hopscotched around the calendar before finally deciding on the first weekend October (where the first 2018 movie launched) and is heading toward the fourth-best domestic opening of October with $71.3M, per Sony this morning. However, industry estimates have the Andy Serkis-directed sequel higher at $81.3M, which would be the second-best for the month, behind 2019’s Joker ($96.2M) and ahead of Sony’s own Venom ($80.2M). Wherever Venom 2, falls it’s a superhero gross which isn’t worthy of complaint.
Venom 2 had a massive Friday, the second best of the pandemic at $37.3M, behind Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow at $39.5M. Anyone concerned that we could reach summer levels at the October pandemic B.O. can rest easy.
All of this is culminating in an overall box office weekend that’s around $121M, -20% off from the same weekend in 2019, when Joker ruled. If these figures hold, it will be the top-grossing weekend during the pandemic, besting the 3-day of Black Widow‘s weekend (July 9-11), when all titles made $119.1M. EntTelligence reports that 2.8M people have watched Venom 2 to date, with close to 75% of the entire moviegoing weekend audience attending the Sony/Marvel sequel between Friday and Thursday.
Exits here for Venom 2 are good enough to send ticket sales into the October annals with a B+ CinemaScore, the same as the first movie, and a PostTrak of 76% positive and a 65% definite recommend from general audiences. Kids under 12 loved it at 88% positive, a 66% definite recommend, with an overall pull of 67% guys, 50% over 25, with 57% falling between the vibrant pandemic moviegoing demo of 18-34.
Diversity demos were 40% Caucasian, a very strong 29% Hispanic and Latino turnout, 16% Black and 15% Asian/other. The West and South were the dominant areas for Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock sequel, with Imax, PLFs and 3D repping since Thursday night a huge 65% of business.
Word of mouth before opening on social, according to RelishMix, was no doubt positive with “chatter for Venom 2 sprinkled by fans though-out Sony Pictures trailers over the Covid shutdown (Escape Room, Ghostbusters, Don’t Breathe 2), with many exclaiming that the Marvel follow-up will be the ‘first movie to get me back in a theater'”.
Venom 2 exceeded the social media universe average for action sci-fi movies with 389.8M followers across YouTube views, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The first Venom hit 754.6M, but included Eminem in the soundtrack, who delivered 134.2M followers, plus music. YouTube views “are exceptional,” per RelishMix, at 290.8M and 44.6M on Facebook for 35 videos with owned pages for the film at 1.5M (1.1M Facebook, 442K Instagram, 174K Twitter) and brisk Venom 2 activity on the Sony Facebook, which counts 29M fans.
Social media champs for Venom 2 include Tom Hardy, with one social channel on Instagram at 7.3M fans, who is using it very effectively to promote his projects and partners with per-post engagement running from 80K up to 1.5M. Woody Harrelson counts 5.3M and is nicely activated, as well as director Serkis at 1.2M. Naomie Harris (who’s in Venom this week and No Time To Die next week) with 461K, plus soundtrack artist Skylar Grey at 2.3M.
MGM/United Artists Releasing/Bron Creative’s The Addams Family 2, even though it’s available in homes on a 48-hour rental at $19.99, is posting a solid Friday of $5.5M and weekend of $15.8M in No. 2, which is slightly ahead of where Paramount opened Paw Patrol in late August at $13.1M, which was available free to Paramount+ subscribers day-and-date.
The animated sequel earned a B CinemaScore, a notch below the 2019 movie’s B+. PostTrak exits were better than CinemaScore at 87% positive and a 73% recommend for parents, while kids under 12 gave it an 82% positive and 67% definite recommend. Females, spurred by moms, made up 57% of the audience, which saw 42% under 17. Diversity demos were 38% Caucasian, a strong 34% Hispanic and Latino turnout, and 16% Black and 12% Asian/other. Part 2 here saw business in the West and Southwest, which is where the first film delivered.
Warner Bros./New Line’s The Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark is coming in at a studio-reported $7M, currently third for the weekend, after a $2.1M Friday. Because it’s an older adult-skewing movie, still the reluctant demo during Covid, and on the HBO Max service, no one was expecting this 74% fresh critically acclaimed movie to overindex. The pic is coming in within its single digit box office range. What we’re really curious about is the turnout on HBO Max for this long-awaited extension of The Sopranos universe.
Will Saints defeat the ongoing pandemic norm, whereby those day-and-date titles which underperform in theaters also underperform in the home? The movie is a great tee-up for another Sopranos series about young Tony and his family, and that would be money for HBO Max.
Moviegoers didn’t love this tragic mob tale about Sopranos’ Christopher Moltisanti’s father, Dickie, played by Alessandro Nivola, as much as critics giving it a C+ CinemaScore, and PostTrack of 77% positive and a 60% definite recommend. Those few who bought tickets instead of subscribing to HBO Max were 52% males, 76% over 25, with half of the audience being between 25-44. 67% Caucasian, 20% Latino and Hispanic, 5% Black and 8% Asian/other showed up. The prequel played best on the East Coast, which isn’t surprise for this mob movie.
Other notables this weekend: Chal Mera Putt 3 from Rhythm Boyz Entertainment and filmmaker Janjot Singh is looking at an estimated $210K Friday and 3-day of $674K for a very good $7,4K theater average. The threequel, about the lives of illegal immigrants in the UK, their friendship, and their constant struggle of finding a home away from home, did most of its business in Canada.
NEON’s Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner Titane is posting an estimated $218K Friday and $562K weekend at 562 theaters. Among its theaters in 127 markets, I hear the movie’s big city runs are halfway decent. Like all adult-skewing specialty titles in this marketplace, distributors with such fare have to go wider than the handful of NYC and LA runs they use to book during pre-pandemic times. The Julia Ducournau-directed movie is 84% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
While we’ve written that when a big cinema in a city market closes, that the audience migrates to another theater in the area, just know that many indie distributors are greatly missing the Hollywood Arclight right now. That movie palace was a jewel, and fire to getting awards contenders off the ground in their first weekend at the box office.
Liongate’s documentary about the faith-based music scene, The Jesus Music, grossed $244K on Friday for what looks to be a $550K opening weekend at 249 theaters in 108 markets. The feature from the Erwin Brothers had some halfway decent runs in the Bible Belt.
Top 5 pics for the weekend
1.) Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony) 4,225 Theaters Fri $37.2M, 3-day $71.3M/Wk 1
2.) The Addams Family 2 (UAR) 4,207 theaters Fri $5.6M, 3-day $15.8M/Wk 1
3.) The Many Saints of Newark (NL) 3,181 theaters Fri $2.1M, 3-day $7M/Wk 1
4.) Shang-Chi (Dis) 3,455 (-497) theaters Fri $1.62M (-55%) 3-day $5.8M (-55%), Total: $205.9M/Wk 5
5.) Dear Evan Hansen (Uni) 3,364 theaters Fri $730K (-78%), 3-day $2.4M (-68%), Total: $11.7M/Wk 2
Friday Afternoon Update: The opening day of Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage will definitely be one for the record books. After seeing a bulk of walk-up business last night as well as strong advance ticket sales, the pic is looking at a Friday definitely in the high $20Ms on its way to $30M. This includes last night’s $11.6M previews, which saw a strong turnout from Latino and Hispanic moviegoers at 25% and PLF and Imax ticket sales repping 32% of Thursday’s business. This all speaks to those who are returning to cinemas for big event pics during the pandemic are splurging. This should easily put Venom 2 in the mid-to-high $60M range for the weekend. I will say that rival studios have it higher. Any conservative projections here stem from the unpredictable nature of Saturday night business during the pandemic and how front-loaded Venom 2 might be. Obviously, the hot word of mouth from Monday’s fan screening at Universal Citywalk is spreading: California repped 24% of last night’s ticket sales for the Tom Hardy produced, story by and starring Marvel sequel. Sony is really respecting the theatrical window here with Venom 2: I hear the movie is on a window that far exceeds 45 days. Rotten Tomatoes is up to 60% fresh now.
The top four opening days at the October box office are Joker ($39.3M, Oct. 4, 2019), Halloween ($33M, Oct. 19, 2018), Venom ($32.5M, Oct. 5, 2018), and Paranormal Activity 3 ($26.3M, Oct. 21, 2011). Venom 2 is definitely north of Paranormal Activity 3.
MGM/UAR/Bron Creative’s The Addams Family 2 will take the No. 2 spot with a $4.5M Friday (including last night’s previews) and weekend that’s at $14M-$16M booked at 4,207 theaters in the No. 2 spot. As we told, the movie is available in homes for $19.99 as a 48-hour PVOD rental. Rotten Tomatoes is at 22%, but it’s a kids’ movie, and they don’t care about critics.
Warner Bros.’ The Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark at 3,181 theaters is seeing between $2.5M-$3M on its way to third with $7M. Many theaters aren’t starting showtimes until 3pm. The pic, a spinoff of the award-winning HBO series, is also available on HBO Max. Among the wide releases, the pic has the best reviews at 76% fresh on RT.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings at 3,455 theaters is seeing a fifth Friday of $1.7M, -52%, and a weekend of $6.5M, -50%, for a running total by EOD Sunday of $206.5M. It’s the only major studio movie at the domestic box office to reach that level, but there’s more competition yet to come this month.
Universal’s Dear Evan Hansen will take 5th place at 3,364 theaters with $750K today, -77% from last Friday, and a second weekend of $2.4M, -68%, for a ten-day of $11.7M.
All together with everything, many are figuring another $100M+ weekend during the pandemic. Exhibitors, studios, moviegoers, popcorn manufacturers — everybody wins.
Friday AM Update: Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage rang up a great $11.6M Thursday night from showtimes that began at 4PM yesterday at 3,500 theaters. That’s the second best we’ve seen during the pandemic after Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow which grossed $13.2M on Thursday night from shows that began at 5PM (sans Disney+ Premier for the night). Even better news: That preview haul is higher than that of the 2018 movie which did $10M off showtimes that began at 5PM. Venom went on to do a $32.5M first day and $80.2M opening weekend, which is the second best ever for the month of October.
Disney/Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings follows in ranking among big pandemic Thursday nights with $8.8M from showtimes at 6 p.m., and then Universal’s F9 which did $7.1M off 7PM showtimes.
We had previously heard that the first day advance ticket sales for Andy Serkis-directed movie were quite potent. The current Rotten Tomatoes’ review rating for Venom 2 is at 58% Rotten, which is higher than the 2018’s first installment of 30% Rotten. We’ll see how audience exits settle. They’re always high with fans on Thursday night and even out by tonight. Fans at an AMC Universal Citywalk screening Monday night went bonkers for the Tom Hardy sequel.
Sony has told the media that they’re comping the sequel to A Quiet Place Part II which did $47.5M over its 3 days of Memorial Day weekend, however, other tracking services and even major exhibitors’ own internal projections have Venom 2 over $60M. Venom 2 is already far ahead of A Quiet Place 2 with its preview night making 2.4x more than that horror film which did $4.8M.
MGM/United Artists Releasing/Bron Creative’s The Addams Family 2 held previews that began at 4pm. The pic is booked at 4,207 locations and available for a 48-hour rental on PVOD for $19.99. The pic is expected to gross in the high teens over three days. The first movie back in 2019, also directed by Conrad Vernon and which was on a theatrical window, opened to $30.3M. We hear that Addams Family 2 did $550K last night from roughly 2,500 theaters.
Voltage Pictures’ had two special showings of YA romance threequel After We Fell which collected a solid $627K from both the 7pm and 10pm Fathom Events shows.
Warner Bros.’ The Many Saints of Newark which is going day-and-date theatrical on HBO Max did not hold Thursday night previews.
Disney’s Shang-Chi grossed over $200M yesterday, the first movie at the domestic box office to reach that feat during the pandemic of the last 20 months. We already reported a week ago that the MCU title surpassed Black Widow to becomes the highest grossing movie of the pandemic in U.S. and Canada.
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