In surprising and promising box office news, Venom: Let There Be Carnage defied expectations and scored the biggest domestic opening weekend of the pandemic to date. The film earned an estimated $90.1 million in its opening weekend. In what may be the best and most impressive aspect of the film’s success, the new Venom had an even bigger opening weekend than the first Venom movie, which opened with $80.2 million in the fall of 2018, long before Covid began causing enormous issues for the theatrical industry.

Let There Be Carnage was originally supposed to open in October of 2020. Sony repeatedly moved the film as the pandemic continued to worsen; first to June of 2021, then to September, and then to early October. Sony’s strategy of waiting until theaters were in better shape — and not selling the film off to a streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime — clearly paid off.

Here was what Sony President Josh Greenstein told Deadline about Venom’s impressive box office debut:

For us, Venom: Let There Be Carnage absolutely validates our exclusive theatrical window strategy. If you look at the history of theatrical, the obituaries have been written many times and they’ve always been wrong. We had confidence in the theatrical experience, confidence in our big valuable IP and took full advantage and had the patience to weather all of this. That strategy is paying off which we’re happy about. It’s a nice validation of the theatrical strategy.

While the pandemic is certainly not over, several films have had impressive opening weekends recently. Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings made $71.2 million over the typically slow Labor Day weekend. Earlier this week, it became the first movie of the pandemic era to gross $200 million total in domestic release. Unlike earlier Disney releases during the pandemic, Shang-Chi was exclusive to theaters, and so was Venom: Let There Be CarnageF9, and just about every 2021 release that’s done solid business in multiplexes. People love seeing movies at home, but for the right title, they’ll still pay for the big screen experience.

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