Sony delays Venom sequel release amid Delta virus surge
In the biggest sign yet that Hollywood’s autumn plans are being altered by the coronavirus surge driven by the Delta variant, Sony Pictures has delayed the release of the big-budget sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
Instead of opening in theatres on September 24, the Venom sequel will now debut on October 15.
The film, starring Tom Hardy, had already been delayed numerous times during earlier stages of the pandemic.
But after constant turmoil, the autumn movie calendar has stayed relatively calm until recently. Last week, Paramount Pictures postponed the release of Clifford The Big Red Dog, citing the Delta variant.
What Venom and Clifford have in common is that they are planned as theatre-only releases.
Sony does not have a major streaming platform the way Disney and Warner Bros do.
Those studios have been relaying partly on subscription boosts or digital rentals to offset lost box office.
The original Venom earned 856 million dollars (£620 million) globally in 2018.
After ramping-up ticket sales, the box office has turned sour in recent weeks. After Disney’s Jungle Cruise underperformed in late July, Warner Bros’ The Suicide Squad opened with an underwhelming 26.2 million dollars last weekend.
Analysts have said the Delta variant is keeping many moviegoers home.
But the Venom delay — relatively short compared to the postponements of last year — also suggests the film industry is banking on the current surge fading quickly.
This weekend, Disney will release the 20th Century Fox production Free Guy, with Ryan Reynolds, only in theatres.