Critics seem to be writing Venom off as a box office failure, but there’s a lot of evidence that it could perform well. Fans and critics alike have been skeptical about Venom since it was first announced. The very idea of a Spider-Man spinoff universe bereft of Peter Parker just seems odd, which is why a lot of discussion has revolved around whether or not Tom Holland will make a cameo.
Meanwhile, the recent revelation that Venom will be PG-13 has generated a lot of complaints. This is a character who famously threatens to eat people’s brains, but a PG-13 rating is generally viewed as the kiss of death to the bloody, violent concept many comic book readers had hoped for.
All these issues, and more, mean that fans and critics alike are dismissing Venom as a failure long before its release. Some are even comparing it to 2004’s Catwoman, a film that grossed only $82 million in the global box office. However, these problems are overstated, and there’s growing evidence that Venom will perform well. Let’s take a look at what’s really going on.
- This Page: Why Venom Could Prove The Doubters Wrong
- Page 2: How Big Will Venom Be At The Box Office?
Venom’s Trailer Has Broken Records
After a lackluster beginning to Venom‘s marketing, in April Sony dropped the first full Venom trailer. It gave audiences their first glimpse of the tongue-slavering symbiote, and they were clearly captivated. The trailer was viewed a staggering 64.3 million times in its first 24 hours online, meaning it was watched more than trailers for Wonder Woman and Doctor Strange over the same metric. According to analysts, positive conversation went up by 46 percent, while negative conversation dropped by a stunning 63 percent. The degree of positivity on social media was compared to the likes of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Ant-Man. Within a month, the Venom trailer was the most viewed in the entire Spider-Man franchise.
Some critics and fans may have written Venom off, but all this suggests that general moviegoers haven’t done so. There’s clearly a significant level of interest in Venom, and Sony’s comic book-accurate recreation of the character has intrigued potential audiences. Now, it’s important to note that this won’t necessarily translate into a strong box office performance; researchers are still divided over whether or not it’s possible to make those kind of predictions based on trailer views and social media chatter. Still, Venom‘s second trailer was a marked success, and the conversation is heading in just the direction Sony want. That does indeed position the film to have a good box office run.
Venom is Still Riffing on Spider-Man
Spider-Man is the most valuable comic book brand of them all. In 2014, THR reported that the wall-crawler’s merchandise value was a whopping $1.3 billion, against just $325 million for the entire Avengers franchise. No doubt that figure has only increased over time. Spider-Man’s popularity is global, too, as demonstrated by the fact Spider-Man: Homecoming grossed over $500 million overseas. Given the significance of the Spider-Man brand, it’s no surprise Sony has been careful to stress Venom‘s connections to the franchise.
Take the question of whether or not Tom Holland will make a cameo. The studio is pointedly refusing to comment about this, allowing the debate to rage, well aware it means there’s a conversation going on that links Spider-Man to Venom. That’s probably the same reason we’ve had such conflicting statements as to whether or not Venom should be considered part of the wider MCU. Even Sony’s decision to go for a PG-13 version of the film was spun as due to a hope for a future MCU crossover.
Cast a critical eye on the Venom trailer, and you’ll realize that it subtly stressed the character’s Spider-Man roots. Entire lines of dialogue were lifted straight from Spider-Man books. “Eyes, lungs, pancreas,” Venom snarled at a helpless thug. “So many snacks, so little time.” It didn’t take comic book fans long to recognize that as a line from Amazing Spider-Man #374. In a recent interview with Fandango, director Ruben Fleischer stressed that this is a film with a lot of these Easter eggs. “I’m excited for fans of the comics to see the movie and try to spot them,” he explained. “We literally lifted iconic frames from the Venom comic book and put them in the movie.“
Venom Only Needs to Be Better Than Spider-Man 3 To “Win”
This is the second time Sony has attempted to turn Venom into a big-screen star. Avi Arad famously pushed Sam Raimi into introducing the character in 2007’s Spider-Man 3, and it’s an understatement to say that it didn’t go well. Speaking to Nerdist in 2015, Raimi admitted that he made a mistake agreeing to add Venom into his film. “I tried to make it work, but I didn’t really believe in all the characters,” he admitted, “so that couldn’t be hidden from people who loved Spider-Man. If the director doesn’t love something, it’s wrong of them to make it when so many other people love it… I should’ve just stuck with the characters and the relationships and progressed them to the next step and not tried to top the bar.“
Ironically, Spider-Man 3‘s failure works in Venom‘s favor. There’s a sense in which it doesn’t matter whether or not Venom is a good film, whether the critics love or hate it, since there’s only one movie fans of the character will be comparing it to. All Venom has to do in order to be a success is be better than Spider-Man 3, and that seems highly likely. Using Raimi’s logic, it’s pretty evident that Fleischer is a Venom fan. He’s drawing upon the classic comics with a sense of delight, and his excitement to be making this film shines through in every single interview. That doesn’t necessarily mean Venom will indeed be a good movie; but it’s sure to be better than the overstuffed and ill-characterized Spider-Man 3.
Venom’s Opening Weekend Prediction Is Climbing
Pulling all these strands together, it should really serve as no surprise that Venom looks set to perform well upon release. The film was originally predicted to have a domestic opening weekend of between $30 million and $50 million, but those figures are being revised upwards. Latest estimates actually suggest Venom will break Gravity‘s record for an October opening weekend, grossing between $60 and $85 million in the domestic box office. An opening weekend of $60 million would place Venom in the same ballpark as X-Men: Apocalypse, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger; if it achieves figures towards the higher end of that range, it will be within reach of Doctor Strange, X2, and Spider-Man 2.
Of course, box office predictions aren’t an exact science. The first tracking for Solo: A Star Wars Story, for example, predicted a Memorial Day weekend of $170 million; instead, the film grossed $103 million. But Sony won’t really mind if the estimates for Venom have erred on the positive side. Solo cost an estimated $275 million whereas Venom had a budget of just $100 million, and is associated with a franchise that typically performs well at the global box office. Frankly, if current tracking does prove right, Venom has the potential to recoup its costs within days of its release.
Venom‘s biggest advantage is its lack of competition. Mowgli‘s departure from the box office means that the only real competitor in October is Damien Chazelle’s First Man, starring Ryan Gosling as Noel Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon. Needless to say, these concepts are so different that they shouldn’t really affect one another. The next major horror release is Halloween, which hits theaters on October 19, but that has a higher age-rating, and so shouldn’t put too much of a dent in Venom‘s box office. Venom could almost be a box office success by default.
Sony is betting the house on Venom‘s success. The film is intended to be the launchpad for a new shared cinematic universe, one centered around the Spider-Man villains. Right now, the studio has good reason to be very optimistic indeed about Venom. The critics may be writing the movie off, but all the evidence suggests they’re making a mistake to do so.