Here we go again.
Despite Hollywood’s best efforts, the delta variant of COVID-19 has started to upend the movie theater industry’s recent gains. Given the rocky film landscape, Sony Pictures has announced plans to delay the theatrical release of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” the studio’s upcoming comic book adventure, starring Tom Hardy as the eponymous alien symbiote.
The “Venom” sequel, which has been delayed several times amid the pandemic, was set to open on Sept. 24 in the U.S. and will now premiere on Oct. 15.
The delay comes as COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing in the U.S. due to the highly contagious delta variant. The surge has led to a decline in consumer confidence in returning to the movies. According to a recent survey conducted by the National Research Group, 67% of moviegoers say they’re “very or somewhat comfortable” visiting their local multiplex — which is a dip of 3% compared to last week, and down 14% from one month ago.
As a result, the movie theater business hasn’t fully recovered from the prolonged industry-wide shutdown. So far, the domestic box office has seen a mix of COVID-era hits (like “A Quiet Place Part II” and “F9: The Fast Saga”) and misses (such as “Snake Eyes” and “Space Jam: A New Legacy.”) At the same time, the international box office — which is critical to the success of big-budget films — has been struggling as hotspots emerge across the globe.
Andy Serkis is directing “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” The first film, 2018’s “Venom,” was a surprise box office smash, generating $855 million at the global box office. The sequel will star Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Reid Scott and Naomie Harris.