Venom Becomes Second Movie Of The Year To Pass $200 Million At The Domestic Box Office

If you had said two years ago that "Venom: Let Their Be Carnage" would wind up being the second-highest-grossing domestic release of the year you might have been laughed out of the middle school cafeteria. Yet here we are, as Deadline reports that the Sony Pictures Spider-Verse film has become only the second movie of 2021 to cross the $200 million dollar milestone after Marvel Studios' "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" ($224 million). 

Granted, this is mostly due to the fact that the theatrical industry is still getting back on its feet after being down for the count for the last three quarters of 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic. Audiences are still reckoning with whether or not to take the risk of going to theaters, and many of those cinemas sit virtually empty due to the fact that many younger children have still not been vaccinated, thus families are opting to stay home. Yet "Venom: Let Their Be Carnage" somehow skewed to just the right demographics at just the right time, releasing in late September to relatively little competition. The continued adventures of Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and his alien symbiote buddy battling a "Natural Born Killers"-tinged Woody Harrelson in CGI drag proved edgy enough for older audiences and that sweet spot of teens and tweens who were just getting their shoulders pricked by Pfizer or Moderna. 

Sony Marvel vs Marvel Marvel

Like its predecessor, the new "Venom" film was also a real crowdpleaser, earning a Comscore of 4 stars from audiences. That tracks with 2018's "Venom," which likewise got pummeled by critics but gobbled up by moviegoers, who appreciated its go-for-broke approach to the superhero genre. Unlike their Marvel Studios brethren, both Venom movies have been relatively cost-efficient, coming in at roughly $100 million each compared to the $150-$200 million budgets of the three Marvel Studios releases this year. 

Even crazier is the fact that Sony is, at least domestically, beating Disney at their own game, trumping the tally of "Black Widow" ($183 million domestically) by eschewing the day-and-date model and sticking with a theatrical exclusive window. "Venom: Let Their Be Carnage" is still not set to hit the digital market until November 23 and Blu-ray on December 14. It will likely out-earn "Eternals" ($118 million and counting) as well, given the fact that Marvel chose to release that film at a running time of 2 hours and 37 minutes (2-minutes longer than "Dune"!), whereas "Carnage" clocked in at a lean-and-mean 97-minutes. It has even taken "Shang-Chi" globally, with that MCU movie making $430 million worldwide compared to the "Carnage" numbers of $441 million.

And let's not forget what a huge win this is for director (and one-time MCU villain) Andy Serkis, who parlayed his expertise with performance capture into franchise filmmaking and hit a home run. Whether this bodes well for the more questionable Sony release of "Morbius" this January is hard to say, but in the Covid market, bigger is not necessarily better, and the model for four quadrant movies may be heading more in Sony's direction than Marvel Studios.