Against all odds, or at least critical consensus, Venom is breaking records at the box office. The Sony Pictures film raised its worldwide total to $822.5M over the holiday weekend, moving ahead of Wonder Woman ($821.8M) and Spider-Man ($821.7M) on the all-time superhero box office rankings. That gives Venom a pair of new records.
Passing Wonder Woman makes Venom the highest-grossing superhero origin movie ever made. Black Panther ($1.35B) still holds the record for best solo franchise debut, but it wasn’t an origin film considering that the title character already appeared in full costume in Captain America: Civil War and his solo film wasn’t about how he actually became Black Panther.
If we drill down to baseball levels of statistical minutia, beating 2002’s Spider-Man makes Venom the highest grossing solo superhero franchise debut for a character that had not already appeared in a film set in the same universe. Remember that Tom Hardy’s Venom is not Topher Grace’s Venom.
If you want to know who gets the credit (or blame) for Venom’s success, look no further than the world’s second-largest movie market. Venom ($242.9M) passed Avengers: Age of Ultron ($240.1M) in China this weekend. That means Venom has outgrossed every superhero film ever released in China except Avengers: Infinity War ($359.5M).
Venom is hardly the first film to be rejected by critics and then embraced by audiences. That the film has made money is no surprise, but the extent to which Venom has succeeded is a shock to most. Even Sony’s executives wouldn’t have predicted this when the decision was made to hold back reviews until the last minute.
Now Sony must figure out how to take this momentum from Venom and turn it into a full-fledged universe. Morbius is the next project on the way from Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters, presumably followed by Venom 2. Both films appear to be dated for 2020.
Given that Venom has come so close to Spider-Man: Homecoming ($880.2M) without the benefit of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sony may start questioning just how much it needs the help of Marvel Studios.