October 3, 2021

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 10.3.2021


OPENINGS:  The blockbusters are delivering even if other box office segments still aren’t, and that’s good news for pandemic-weary theater owners and studios.  In the US, VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE (Columbia/Marvel/Sony) set a new Covid-era record with a remarkable $90.1M opening, larger than the $75.4M earned by Shang-Chi a month ago, the $80.4M theatrical portion of Black Widow‘s launch, and perhaps most impressively, higher than the $80.3M for the first Venom in 2018.   Despite the unique circumstances of the moment, Venom 2 was just slightly below the all-time $96.2M October opening record set by Joker 2 years ago (and might get closer in final numbers).  It may be difficult for the superhero/horror/comedy to hold on at this level, since James Bond is just days away and will swipe most of its IMAX screens, but Venom 2 hasn’t been frontloaded to this point, down just 15% from Friday to Saturday, and it could become the 2nd picture of the year to top $200M in the US.  The overseas release has so far been limited to Russia, where the film set a pandemic record at $13.8M.

THE ADDAMS FAMILY 2 (UA/MGM, also on VOD) wasn’t in the same league, but it had a solid start with $18M, in a similar neighborhood as the $24M opening for the first animated Addams movie in 2019, which had a purely theatrical release.  Addams 2 has no competition for the family market until Ron’s Gone Wrong in 3 weeks, and it could reach $75M in the US.

While Venom 2 was aimed squarely at the 18-34 demo that’s ready to sit in theaters again, THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK (New Line/HBO/Warners, also on HBO Max) had an older target audience that’s still skittish.  The simultaneous streaming debut doubtless bled off some ticket sales, but nonetheless, very few Sopranos fans showed up for the big-screen experience at $5M.  Many Saints wasn’t inexpensive, and its “profit” if any would have to come from HBO Max viewership attributed to the film.

In barely-wide release at 562 theaters, the extremely extreme Cannes Film Festival winner TITANE (Neon) underscored the struggle to reach arthouse audiences with a slow $500K start, seemingly without much potential to expand.

Films that haven’t reached US shores yet were notable overseas.  NO TIME TO DIE (MGM) launched in much of the world (but crucially not China) with $119.1M, and as with Venom 2, that put it on a par with its pre-pandemic predecessors, in this case Skyfall and Spectre.  It arrives here next week, and in China (where the local opening The Battle At Lake Changjin notched $230M in that market alone) at the end of the month.  DUNE (Legendary/Warners, also on HBO Max) is still 3 weeks away from its US opening, and it’s at $100M to date, also without China.

HOLDOVERS:  Facing meaningful competition for the first time since its opening a month ago, SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE 10 RINGS (Marvel/Disney) dropped 54%–compared to 38%/40% in the previous 2 weekends–to $6M.  It currently holds the US pandemic box office record, and should get to $225M before it’s done.  It also has $180.8M overseas, with no China opening scheduled.

DEAR EVAN HANSEN (Universal) shrank from its weak opening, down 67% to $2.5M and unlikely to get much past $20M in the US.  It hasn’t yet opened overseas.

FREE GUY (20th/Disney) continued to find takers, down 45% to $2.3M in its 8th weekend.  Free Guy has squeezed past Jungle Cruise at a $117.6M total vs. $116.1M, and still has some gas in its tank.

LIMITED RELEASE:  The foreign-language CHAL MERA PUTT 3 (RBE) did very well with its target audience, earning $600K at just 90 theaters.  The Christian documentary THE JESUS MUSIC (LG) had a far lower per-theater average with $600K at 249.

NEXT WEEKEND:  As noted, No Time To Die arrives in the US.  In addition, LAMB (A24) will hope to attract the Midsommar audience.  Limited releases include film festival favorites MASS (Bleecker Street) and the documentary THE RESCUE (Greenwich).

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."