Venom and James Bond went on a rampage at the box office and set records domestically and internationally, respectively.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage, actor Andy Serkis’ third directing feature, surpassed all expectations and raked in a whopping $90.1 million. That figure established the best opening in the COVID-19 health crisis era. It came close to beating the biggest opening ever in October, Joker’s $96.2 million.
That’s saying a lot about Venom: Let There Be Carnage’s earnings because they were made during the coronavirus pandemic with all its market limitations whereas Joker’s ticket sales were made during normal, pre-COVID times in 2019.
The sequel that sees the return of Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock and Venom easily defeated the opening numbers record set by Black Widow ($80.37 million) and the original movie’s $80.3 million take in 2018.
Let There Be Carnage’s record-shattering turnstile receipts even in pandemic times prompted Tom Rothman, Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group’s CEO and chairman, to say in a statement, “With apologies to Mr. Twain: The death of movies has been greatly exaggerated.”
Aside from Hardy, who co-produced, the movie features Naomie Harris (who is also in No Time to Die and thus, by coincidence, stars in the two biggest box office newsmakers in the recent weekend), Woody Harrelson and Michelle Williams.
The Addams Family 2, directed by the trio of Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon, and Laura Brosseau, trailed behind Venom 2 with $18 million. The adventure-comedy animation feature, voiced by Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, Bill Hader, and Javon “Wanna’ Walton, is also being streamed. The video-on-demand release significantly impacted the theater ticket sales of the movie or any film shown day-and-date, for that matter.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was finally dethroned as the box office champ after four weeks on the top and placed third with $6 million. The superhero epic, the biggest money earner of the pandemic, was directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, who joins a growing list of Asian-American filmmakers behind blockbusters – Cary Fukunaga, Justin Lin (F9: The Fast Saga), Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) and Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Kung Fu Panda movies).
The Many Saints of Newark, the prequel movie to the acclaimed TV drama series, The Sopranos, opened to a dismal $5 million and finished fourth. Also being streamed on HBO Max, the feature chronicling the formative years of gangster Tony Soprano is headlined by Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, and Michael Gandolfini, as the teenage version of the role created by his late father in the original series, James Gandolfini.
Making it to the top five was Dear Evan Hansen, Stephen Chbosky’s movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical which continued to underperform with $2.4 million. The film, top-billed by Ben Platt who reprises his stage role on the big screen, has made only $11.7 million so far.
Rounding out the rest of the magic ten were Free Guy ($2.28 million), Candyman ($1.2 million), Jungle Cruise ($680,000), The Jesus Music, a documentary on the popularity of pop Christian songs ($560,000), and Titane, winner of the Palme d’Or in last May’s Cannes Film Festival ($516,000).
Overseas, No Time to Die, Daniel Craig’s swan song as cinema’s beloved James Bond, debuted spectacularly. The 25th installment in the popular franchise drew $119.1 million and marked the first time that a Hollywood movie raked in $100 million on its international opening without China.
Let There Be Carnage bowed in only one offshore territory but what a debut: $13.8 million in Russia. That was the biggest opening by any movie in that country during the COVID health crisis.
Dune, Timothee Chalamet’s sci-fi epic with filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, collected $13.7 million and reached the $100 million international benchmark. Shang-Chi grabbed another $8.3 million in more than 40 markets.
But the global box office champ title went to China’s The Battle at Lake Changjin which made a phenomenal $230 million. Directed by Kaige Chen, Dante Lam, and Hark Tsui, the period war drama, described as a Chinese propaganda film, stars Jing Wu, Jackson Yee, and Yihong Duan.