When it comes to evaluating the financial performance of top movies, it isn’t about what a film grosses at the box office. The true tale is told when production budgets, P&A, talent participations and other costs collide with box office grosses and ancillary revenues from VOD to DVD and TV. To get close to that mysterious end of the equation, Deadline is repeating our Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament for 2018, using data culled by seasoned and trusted sources.
Venom had his villainous turn in 2007’s Spider-Man 3, but a solo effort was a tougher. Filmmaker Gary Ross took a shot at it, but the Marc Webb-directed reboot The Amazing Spider-Man took precedence. Finally, Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer and Tom Hardy found the handle around May 2017. Hardy wages an existential battle with the parasitic Venom throughout the movie, and the movie wasn’t that easy behind the scenes, either. Internal studio debates raged about whether Venom, with its carnivorous anti-hero, should be rated R or PG-13 (the latter won out), and there were rumored creative differences between Fleischer and Hardy (the director wanted Venom to be serious, Hardy wanted laughs, and the movie provided both). There were reshoots, down-to-the-wire editing, and an initial backlash from fans that Venom was left of the teaser trailer. Then came the awful reviews at 29% Rotten, from Rotten Tomatoes.
It didn’t matter. Venom soared and became another hit for the rebounding Sony Pictures. Audience exits were four stars on PostTrak, and the Marvel villain notched the best domestic opening ever for October with $80.2M. Distribution experts attributed Venom‘s success partly to its early October slot, which in the past proved a fertile launchpad for such movies as Gravity ($55.7M) and The Martian ($54.3M). But mostly, Venom was fun enough for fanboys, who finally got a movie with a character they had long been waiting to see fly solo. As Disney’s acquisition of Fox corners the market on a number of Marvel characters, Sony still has dibs on roughly 900 in the Spider-Man universe. The overseas draw here was massive. Venom grossed $213.5M domestic, and $855M worldwide and you can bet Tom Rothman and his execs are reading a lot of Spider-Man comics, looking for more blockbusters. Expected down the line is Sinister Six, about a group of Spider-Man villains and the next spinoff will be the vampire Morbius, with Jared Leto in the title role, due out on July 31, 2020 after this summer’s Spider-Man: Far From Home.
THE BOX SCORE
Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:
THE BOTTOM LINE
Venom bled plenty of black ink, enough to match his costume. A profit of $246.9M bests the $200.1M profit on 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming by 23%, and that’s largely because Venom cost less in combined production and worldwide P&A costs ($227M) than the wall crawler (Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s costs were $332M). Another big plus for Venom is that it overindexed in China with $272.2M, which comprised 42% of its $641.5M overseas gross. That take beats Homecoming‘s China B.O. of $116.3M by 134%. Venom also benefited from the marketing muscle of its Chinese partner, Tencent, which funded a third of the film. That partnership drove Venom to a $111 opening in China, making it Sony’s best ever in the Middle Kingdom.