Friday Update: The original publication of this story listed incorrect numbers for Venom in the chart below. They have been corrected to reflect our most recent forecast from previous weeks.
Previous Report: October is gearing up to kick off in record fashion with this weekend’s debut of two counter-programming autumn juggernauts. The pair of new releases look likely to combine for more than $100 million between them by Sunday’s end (something no duo has ever achieved in the tenth calendar month), with an outside-but-possible chance that one or both could challenge the $55.8 million October opening record held by 2013’s Gravity.
Still, this is shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable weekends of the year. The race for first place this weekend may be much closer than the industry has been expecting.
Leading the charge is expected to be Sony’s Venom, which aims to leverage the star power of Tom Hardy and the fan base of one of Marvel’s most popular anti-heroes. The film’s social media trends have registered in line with the likes of Doctor Strange, Logan, and X-Men: Apocalypse. The latter of that trio may be the most comparable without any ties to Disney’s MCU, underwhelming reactions from critics, and minimal character familiarity beyond core comic book fans. Our current tracking range stands between $50 million and $75 million.
Traditional industry tracking is also spanning a wide spectrum, with huge interest levels countering more down-to-earth intent scores (relative to big comic book titles). Meanwhile, our Trailer Impact models have shown consistently strong metrics, although Average Positive Interest is down about 4 percent from when we first tracked the title two months ago. One major factor this weekend could be less family appeal than the Marvel films under Disney’s banner, increasing the potential for a front-loaded Thursday/Friday haul.
The good news is that Venom doesn’t need to perform anywhere near the typical nine-digit Marvel levels to be considered successful. Word of mouth is going to be a major factor in the days ahead for the $100 million budgeted film, but overseas play should be able to drive a strong bottom line even if the domestic run proves to be front-loaded as we’re expecting. There’s also a chance Venom survives poor reviews in the vein of Suicide Squad, although that film didn’t face a strong female-driven competitor opening on the same weekend.
While the comic book release will appeal most to young male audiences, Warner Bros.’ A Star Is Born is aiming for a decidedly adult crowd. The film’s stellar reviews, pre-release Oscar buzz, and excellent word of mouth from screenings around the country have helped create a snowball of momentum for the remake. The pairing of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga has generated some of the most intense interest for an on-screen duo in years, while the latter’s diverse and expansive fan base adds to the fever pitch.
A Star Is Born has generally tracked similar to films like Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Fifty Shades Freed, and other female-led titles this year, but it has shown late signs of pulling away from those comps even when factoring out the film’s Tuesday night fan event screenings (which we expect will be included in weekend grosses). Our updated range stands between $40 million and $60 million for the weekend.
Among the weekend’s two openers, Star seems the most likely to surprise and beat pre-release tracking. Notably, its Trailer Impact Recall score is 3 percent higher than Venom heading into the weekend, while the two films’ Twitter activity have been closely matched over the past week.
The fairest comp at this point is probably 2014’s Gone Girl, which similarly opened in early October as an adult-driven option with a wave of excellent award season buzz, star power, and existing brand awareness on its way to a leggy end-of-year run. That being said, The Martian and Gravity belong in the conversation at this point thanks to stellar pre-sale activity reported by Fandango, even though neither of those films opened with the same level of new release competition (however indirect) like Venom will present. We’re expecting walk-up business not present in pre-release sales or tracking to be a major component of Star‘s actual business.
Like those past October releases, we’re expecting Star will enjoy a long life beyond opening weekend with a domestic run that could rival or exceed The Greatest Showman ($174 million), La La Land ($151 million), and Les Miserables ($149 million).
Top 10 Comparisons
Boxoffice projects this weekend’s top ten films will amass at least $157 million. That would set a new all-time October record by 12 percent or more, passing the October 2 -4, 2015 frame when The Martian debuted as part of an overall $139.8 million top ten. It would also represent a 62 percent increase from the same frame last year, when Blade Runner 2049, The Mountain Between Us, and My Little Pony: The Movie opened in a $97 million top ten market.
|Film||Distributor||3-Day Weekend Forecast||Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, October 7||% Change from Last Wknd|
|Venom||Sony / Columbia||$65,000,000||$65,000,000||NEW|
|A Star Is Born||Warner Bros.||$49,000,000||$49,000,000*||NEW|
|The House With A Clock In Its Walls||Universal||$6,900,000||$54,800,000||-45%|
* = including pre-Thursday screenings
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