Can ‘Venom 2’ Deliver a Big Start to a Busy October Box Office?

One of Sony’s biggest 2021 tentpoles will be joined by ”Addams Family 2“ and ”The Many Saints of Newark“

After a September dominated by Disney/Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings,” the box office is about to enter its most critical stage since theaters reopened. A crowded October film slate is about to begin, starting with this Friday’s launch of Sony’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.”

The original “Venom” was somewhat of a surprise hit in 2018, overcoming skeptical pre-release word-of-mouth and weak reviews due to the campy performance of Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock and the alien symbiote Venom that takes up residence in his body. The film opened to $80 million in the U.S. and grossed $213 million domestic, $269 million in China and $856 million globally.

Of course, in the COVID era, “Venom 2” isn’t expected to get anywhere near those figures; but the sequel could be another step in building the consistently stronger numbers needed to get the box office back to normal. Sony reps say the studio is hoping for a result somewhere between the openings of last month’s “The Suicide Squad” ($26.2 million) and Paramount’s May release of “A Quiet Place — Part II” ($47.5 million) and is projecting a conservative domestic launch around $40 million.

But analysts told TheWrap that “Venom 2” could exceed $60 million in its opening weekend if audience word-of-mouth is as strong as for the original “Venom.” While reviews for the film haven’t been released yet, early word on social media from press screenings is that the sequel leans harder into the dark humor of the first film and the quirky relationship between Eddie and Venom that led fans to pair them as a romantic couple.

Regardless of its opening, the road ahead will be tough for “Venom 2” as it will face off against major titles like MGM’s “No Time to Die,” Warner Bros.’ “Dune” and Universal’s “Halloween Kills” over the course of October. The hope for Sony is that “Venom 2” can find a lane for itself amidst the competition as a title that offers the dark thrills that audiences tend to go for around Halloween but also offers the humor and fun that horror films like “Halloween Kills” won’t have. “Venom” hit the increasingly rare spot of films that defy critical reception and find an audience anyway, and Sony is betting that they can do it again.

Also releasing this weekend are a pair of films that are also coming out on home platforms. First is Warner Bros.’ “The Many Saints of Newark,” a prequel to the beloved HBO show “The Sopranos” that sees the late James Gandolfini’s son Michael play a younger version of Tony Soprano, the mob boss made famous by his dad. Critics have given the film a 76% score on Rotten Tomatoes, calling it an enjoyable but inessential origin story that should please most “Sopranos” fans.

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Jeremy Fuster

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