Will ‘Venom’ Sequel’s $90 Million Debut Lift Movie Theaters Back Into Profit?

Sony’s Marvel film has pushed box office numbers closer than ever to pre-pandemic levels

With the release of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” the box office has hit a critical benchmark that, if sustained in the weeks and months ahead, could mean that theaters may soon start turning a profit again for the first time in over 18 months.

Since they reopened in the spring, major chains like AMC and Cinemark have noted in quarterly earnings reports that while steadily rising box office numbers over the summer have helped them lower their net losses so far this year, overall weekend grosses will have to consistently get to 80% to 90% of pre-pandemic levels before they are completely out of the red.

Thanks in large part to the $90 million domestic opening for “Venom 2” — a record for the pandemic era — overall numbers this weekend rose to $128 million. By comparison, the overall total for the first weekend in October 2019 was $142 million, led by the $96 debut of Warner Bros.’ “Joker.” That means this weekend is just 10% down from that pre-pandemic comp.

“This weekend could be a preview not just for October, but for November and December as well,” Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian told TheWrap, noting that the box office has showed signs of life in September, particularly with the release of Disney/Marvel’s theater-only “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” which opened to $75 million domestically and has grossed $206 million since its Sept. 3 launch.

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Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • jeremy.fuster@thewrap.com • Twitter: @jeremyfuster