'Venom 2' Release Date: Closer to Reality, Maybe Without Original Director

In the wake of its stunning $855 million box office gross worldwide, Sony is moving forward with a sequel to Venom, though original director Ruben Fleischer may not return for Venom 2, or whatever the studio ends up calling it.

On Monday, Variety reported that Sony had negotiated for Kelly Marcel, one of three of the original Venom screenwriters, to pen the sequel. (Marcel co-wrote the first with Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg.) Sources didn’t disclose an exact sum, but the numbers behind Marcel’s deal was “a significant one.”

Variety further reported that Ruben Fleischer may not return to direct Venom 2 due to production on Zombieland 2, the forthcoming sequel to Fleischer’s hit apocalyptic teen comedy from 2009. Tom Hardy, however, is likely to reprise his role as Eddie Brock, a former journalist who becomes infected with the alien symbiote to become the anti-hero monster, Venom.

Michelle Williams, whose character briefly became (spoilers) She-Venom, as well as Woody Harrelson (who appeared in the post-credits scene as the villain Carnage) are also expected to return for Venom 2.

What’s compelling about the new Venom sequel was the original film’s unexpected sex appeal among its audience, which is now being weaponized through Marcel’s re-hiring. (The screenwriter also wrote the film adaptation of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey.)

Shortly after the movie’s release in the United States, Sony began leaning in to the movie’s awkward sexual energy and undertones; the film’s marketing in China depicted Venom as kind of the perfect boyfriend. For Christmas, Sony released a recut trailer that made Venom look like a romantic comedy. So expect Venom 2 to have a lot more tongue, so to speak.

There is no release date yet for Venom 2.