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If its mission is successful, the astronaut biographical drama First Man will help in continuing to fuel an October boom at the domestic box office, although it may not be able to blast past holdovers Venom or A Star Is Born.
Reuniting acclaimed filmmaker Damien Chazelle with his La La Land star Ryan Gosling, First Man is a visceral and personal retelling of Neil Armstrong’s journey to the moon in 1969. From Universal, the critically acclaimed movie is tracking to debut in the $18 million-$20 million range when unfurling nationwide, on par with Ben Affleck’s Oscar-winning film Argo (2012).
Comparisons to La La Land (2016) or Chazelle’s Whiplash (2014) are tough, since both of those pics debuted first in select theaters. First Man, costing a gross $70 million to produce, co-stars Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Armstrong, Corey Stoll and Lukas Haas.
First Man couldn’t have anticipated the record-breaking strength of Venom and A Star Is Born, which opened last weekend to $80.3 million and $42.9 million, respectively. Venom scored the top opening of all time for the month of October, which has never been considered a landing pad for mega-openings; rather, it has been home to adult-skewing award contenders, such as Argo, Bridge of Spies or Captain Phillips, that can have long legs.
Venom, a superhero pic from Sony featuring Tom Hardy as the Marvel antihero, could easily earn $30 million or more in its sophomore outing. A Star Is Born, starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, could take in anywhere from $26 million to $30 million.
First Man is hardly the only new film gracing the marquee this weekend.
Also opening nationwide is Sony’s animated Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, voiced by Jack Black. The family pic is tracking to open in the $14 million-$20 million range, while 20th Century Fox’s period-thriller Bad Times at The El Royale may have trouble clearing $10 million despite relatively strong reviews and a star-studded cast that includes Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Cynthia Erivo, Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm and Nick Offerman.
A slew of movies will also launch in select theaters at the specialty box office, including Sony Pictures Classics’ The Happy Prince, directed by and starring Rupert Everett as Oscar Wilde; Roadside Attraction’s The Oath, toplined by Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz; and Amazon Studios’ father-son drama Beautiful Boy, starring Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet.
Like First Man and A Star Is Born, Beautiful Boy made the rounds at the fall film festivals in hopes of whipping up awards attention. Ditto for Paul Greengrass’ terrorist drama 22 July, which opens date-and-date this weekend on Netflix and in a smattering of theaters.
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