Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment
Two weeks ago Disney CEO Bob Iger made it clear that Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige would assume control of the cinematic futures of the X-Men characters after the company completes its acquisition of Fox. That would leave Sony as the only other studio to manage Marvel Comics characters as it retains control of Spider-Man, which it has loaned out to Disney a couple times now, and his cast of characters.

With that in mind the studio this week releases Venom. Tom Hardy stars as Eddie Brock, an investigative journalist currently chasing down a story involving a science company run by Dr. Carlton Drake (Raz Ahmed). That company has allegedly been engaging in some dangerous experiments, one of which involves a symbiotic organism. When that symbiote attaches itself to Brock, he gains super-human powers, along with the desire to eat people.

Tracking estimates forecast an opening weekend somewhere north of $60 million, which would be good news for Sony. To help bring people out, it’s run a campaign that has constantly reminded people this is the story of an anti-hero while establishing Venom on his own, separate from Spider-Man, on whom the character’s origin and motivation have almost always depended.

The first teaser poster hit exactly the beat it needed to, showing Venom’s huge, white, distorted eyes looking out at the audience from a solid black background. A great first effort. The second puts a crawling Venom mask on Hardy’s face to show the split nature of the character.

A series of three posters featured bold images of the title character. One showed a close up of his face, with wild lines coming out of his eyes and mouth to show how out of control he is. The next pulls the camera back to show more of the character, but the same kind of uncontrolled fury is communicated with black lines shooting out of his body in all directions. The third offers a profile of Venom lunging toward something off-camera, his tongue out and anxious for whatever he’s about to eat.

A new version of the same image showing half of Hardy’s face obscured by the symbiote was released that also sported the tagline “The world has enough superheroes,” something that was used online as well. Sony then pulled out the usual superhero movie design tropes for the theatrical poster, putting Hardy in the middle with Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed flanking him, their backs turned to the camera. Venom looms over the image, which includes various elements that offer hints as to the story and setting, from a spaceship about to launch to the Golden Gate Bridge to Venom about to attack something.

The first teaser poster hit exactly the beat it needed to, showing Venom’s huge, white, distorted eyes looking out at the audience from a solid black background. A great first effort. The second puts a crawling Venom mask on Hardy’s face to show the split nature of the character.

A series of three posters featured bold images of the title character. One showed a close up of his face, with wild lines coming out of his eyes and mouth to show how out of control he is. The next pulls the camera back to show more of the character, but the same kind of uncontrolled fury is communicated with black lines shooting out of his body in all directions. The third offers a profile of Venom lunging toward something off-camera, his tongue out and anxious for whatever he’s about to eat.

A new version of the same image showing half of Hardy’s face obscured by the symbiote was released that also sported the tagline “The world has enough superheroes,” something that was used online as well. Sony then pulled out the usual superhero movie design tropes for the theatrical poster, putting Hardy in the middle with Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed flanking him, their backs turned to the camera. Venom looms over the image, which includes various elements that offer hints as to the story and setting, from a spaceship about to launch to the Golden Gate Bridge to Venom about to attack something.

Marvel, despite the movie not coming their own production house, did give the character a bit of comics attention, announcing early on in the film’s hype cycle that Venom would be at the center of a couple miniseries events to help get people’s attention.

There were a couple different sponsored posts run on Twitter during San Diego Comic-Con, one just promoting the #WeAreVenom hashtag and one announcing the launch of @EddiesClubhouse, an account dedicated to answering fan questions.

Online ads began running in mid-September featuring variations on the key art showing half of Brock’s face and half of Venom’s. Around that time an ESPN-exclusive TV spot was released showing Venom being brought in to the network’s offices to see if he could really be scary.

Other commercials from the studio took various approaches to showing off Brock and his alter-ego, with some focusing on how he’s kind of a bad boy to others that featured the Eminem song from the soundtrack.

Turning people into Venom was the idea behind both a Facebook Camera Mask and a Snapchat lens that applied the face of the symbiote to the subject of the video or photo.

There were also a couple promotions involving Amazon, which has partnered with Sony on previous films as well. First, Alexa users who have installed the Fandango skill will hear a few lines of dialogue from the movie when they search for showtimes. Second, Amazon members could scan a “smilecode” within the shopping app to save $5 on tickets.

Sony also offered exclusive material within the PlayStation Store on PS4 consoles.

Promotional partners for the movie included:

? MSI, which offered a box of movie-branded products to those who bought something online along with a sweepstakes awarding a trip to San Francisco and other locations.

? Walmart, which offered shoppers there exclusive Funko POP figures as well as new Venom-themed Blu-ray packaging for popular Sony movies like Ghostbusters, Underworld and more.

? Brisk, which released a “Symbiotic Dark Cherry Limeade” in movie-branded packaging, supporting that with a TV spot and other ads.

The release of the first full trailer was timed to happen during CinemaCon in April, where the movie was part of Sony’s presentation to insiders and press there.

A small version of the teaser poster was handed out to those hitting up their local comic shops on Free Comic Book Day earlier this year and then again at San Diego Comic-Con in July, where the cast and crew all appeared to talk about the story and get fans hyped up for it.

The first clip, released in late September, shows Eddie confronting Dr. Drake about the secret experiments Drake’s company has reportedly been engaging in, a confrontation that has Eddie being ejected from the building. A second showed Venom taking on a whole group of SWAT officers.