‘Venom’ Sequel Likely to Replace Original Film’s Director

Scheduling difficulties may force Sony Pictures to move forward on its Venom sequel without director Ruben Fleischer, Variety reports.

Fleischer is now developing the sequel to Zombieland, also backed by Sony, which could reach theaters this October. The Venom sequel, now in the works at the studio with original screenwriter Kelly Marcel, is being prepped for an October 2, 2020 release.

Star Tom Hardy is signed to a three-movie deal and is expected in the next installment to face off against symbiote-powered serial killer Carnage (Woody Harrelson), who first appeared in a mid-credits tag to close out the first film.

“We’ve definitely laid some groundwork for different directions that the franchise could go but obviously it all hinges on people’s excitement about this film,” Fleischer told ComicBook.com at San Diego Comic-Con in July.

“I hope people will stay and see what seeds have been planted.”

An offshoot of the Spider-Man franchise — set in a world separate from the Disney-owned Marvel Cinematic Universe, where the Sony-controlled Spider-Man (Tom Holland) exists as a member of the Avengers — Venom proved itself a mega-hit at the box office, earning $855 million worldwide on a reported budget of just $100 million.

Venom’s performance made it the third-highest grossing Spider-Man-inspired blockbuster, behind only 2007’s Spider-Man 3 ($890m) — where Venom made his live-action debut, to mixed reactions — and 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming ($880m).

The film, backed by franchise producers Avi Arad and Amy Pascal, beat out 2002’s Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man ($821m), 2004 sequel Spider-Man 2 ($783m), Marc Webb-steered reboot The Amazing Spider-Man ($757m) and 2014 sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($757m), and animated critical darling Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ($275m+).

Like its predecessor, the Venom sequel is expected to retain its PG-13 rating despite the involvement of unhinged murderer Cletus Kasady.

“When you hear ‘Carnage,’ the only thing you can think of is R. But, if you know his story, if you really know the comic, there’s no R here,” Arad previously told Collider.

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“He’s a tortured soul. It’s not about what he does, because we never have to show the knife going from here to there, and the blood is pouring. What you have to show is, what is the motivation? Was he born like that, or it’s someone we should feel for, because if you are succeeding to make a villain someone you can feel for, jackpot.”

Venom 2 is expected to swing into theaters October 2, 2020.