Box Office: ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’ Sinks Teeth Into Impressive $11.6 Million in Previews

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Venom: Let There Be Carnage” roared to a monstrously good $11.6 million in Thursday previews, injecting an enervated box office with a much needed shot of adrenaline. The supervillain sequel is a key piece in Sony Pictures’ grand ambitions to turn its cinematic licensing deal for the Spider-Man comics into a grand Spider-verse (see upcoming films on wall-crawler villains such as Kraven the Hunter and Morbius). The preview results fall just behind the $13.2 million that “Black Widow” pulled in two months ago, which was a record for COVID times. They are better than the $8.8 million that “Shang-Chi” generated in previews and the $7.1 million that “F9” made in previews.

The follow-up to 2018’s “Venom” is directed by Andy Serkis and stars Tom Hardy as an Eddie Brock, an investigative journalist whose encounter with a symbiote turns him into a modern-day Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, albeit with much sharper teeth. The film is estimated to collect at least $50 million in its opening weekend, but given the impressive preview results it could approach $70 million in grosses. It did cost a hefty chunk of change to produce and promote, however, with the film carrying a budget of $110 million plus millions more to market. Woody Harrelson joins the fun for this go-round, playing Carnage, a be-fanged foil for our anti-hero.

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“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” has some competition for the hearts and minds of moviegoers. MGM’s “The Addams Family 2” and Warner Bros.’ “The Many Saints of Newark,” a prequel to “The Sopranos,” are also opening in theaters. The animated family film is expected to generate $15 million to $17 million, while “The Sopranos” spinoff should make $10 million. Both movies are hybrid releases. “The Many Saints of Newark” will bow simultaneously on HBO Max while “The Addams Family 2” will be available to rent on-demand. That could depress their box office results.

Critics hated the first “Venom,” but its sequel is being more slightly more enthusiastically received. It has a 58% “rotten” score on Rotten Tomatoes compared to the woeful 30% its predecessor earned. Of course, who needs critical hosannas when you can make bank?

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