Nerves were on edge on the Sony lot late last week as filmmaker Ruben Fleischer's Venom began opening in theaters nationwide. Most critics crucified the superhero pic — starring Tom Hardy as the titular villain — which got a lowly 31 percent Rotten Tomatoes score that could have dinged the $100 million film, reports Hollywod Reporter.
But by Sunday, studio executives felt like heroes themselves. Venom shook off the bad notices by opening to a massive $80.3 million domestically, well ahead of even the most robust expectations. Heading into the weekend, tracking services had suggested the movie would open somewhere in the $55 million-$70 million range. Venom also notched an October best, easily beating the $55.5 million launch of Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity in 2013.
One big reason for Venom's success: it appealed to an ethnically diverse audience of fanboys — more so than most superhero titles (Black Panther being the big exception). While Caucasians made up 38 percent of Venom ticket buyers on opening weekend, overall sales were fueled by Hispanics (26 percent), African-Americans (18 percent), Asians (11 percent) and Native American/Other (6 percent), according to those with access to comScore and Screen Engine's PostTrak exit-polling service.