Critics have not been kind to Venom, but it doesn't appear that's going to cause much of a problem for the film's box office this weekend. If the Thursday night preview screenings are any indication of the long-term success of Venom, the movie is going to be just fine. It brought in an estimated $10 million on Thursday night, which is a record for an October opening, besting the previous record holder by $2 million.
Previously the record holder for October previews was Paranormal Activity 3 which brought in $8 million but even if Sony's early estimates, as reported by Deadline, for Venom's take last night are off slightly, and there's no reason to believe they are, Venom beat that without breaking a sweat. It also didn't see much competition from the other major release this weekend, A Star is Born which brought in less than half of Venom 's total last night.
Of course, part of the reason for Venom 's success is the fact that it's opening in October at all. This isn't a month that we normally see comic book movies open, but the numbers show that fans will go see that sort of movie any time of year if it's something they want to see. Blockbuster tentpole movies don't need to be limited to the summer or holiday seasons. However, the fact that we haven't seen a movie of this size generally open on October sets the film up for a certain amount of success. Venom's take is good for October, but not necessarily on par with other major superhero releases.
This puts Venom in a great position going into its opening weekend. The best October opening weekend to date came from Gravity which put up $55 million in 2013, with another space drama, The Martian doing nearly as well a couple years later with $53 million. With the best ever start for an October movie, it looks like Venom is in a great position to take this title as well.
This is also potentially good news for Sony in a broader sense, as there are a number of "Spider-verse" characters poised to get their own films, and while many don't have the name recognition of Venom, success here will help pave the way for the others.
Based on this box office start, it would appear that Venom is one of those movies that is "critic-proof." The initial reviews of Venom have not been overwhelmingly positive, but that obviously didn't keep people away from the theater last night. The only question is just how strong the audience is that's going to see Venom regardless of other opinions. It's possible all the diehards went last night, though it's more likely Venom will see similar success at least through its opening weekend, if not beyond.