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Sony’s comic book movie Venom and director Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born — starring Cooper opposite Lady Gaga in her acting debut — could make for one of the most interesting starts to the October box-office history this weekend.
Venom is expected to top the chart with a domestic debut in the $57 million-$65 million range, an October record. One tracking service even suggests $70 million, while Sony remain more conservative in projecting $55 million.
Warner Bros.’ A Star Is Born could cross $30 million, a stellar start for an adult-skewing movie. And who knows how high the musical-infused romantic drama climbs if Lady Gaga fans turn out in force.
To date, the record-holder for biggest October opening is Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, which rocketed to $55.7 million in 2013, not adjusted for inflation. Second up is 2015’s The Martian with $54.3 million. In other words, the month has never been viewed as a corridor for mega-openings; rather, films — and especially adult-skewing titles — can enjoy a long run.
Venom is a defining moment for Sony as it tries to expand its stable of superhero pics beyond just Spider-Man and exploit other Marvel characters it licenses. The $100 million movie, starring Tom Hardy as the titular antihero, is the first comic book film since Ant-Man and the Wasp in early July, while there isn’t another superhero pic until Aquaman in December.
Chinese company Tencent recently took a major stake in Venom, which opens in 59 markets timed to its U.S. launch for a possible foreign debut of $85 million-plus. It has yet to land a China release date.
The story follows investigative journalist Eddie Brock as he comes across a villainous alien creature, or symbiote, that ends up using his body as a host. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, Venom co-stars Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze and Reid Scott.
Marking Cooper’s directorial debut, A Star Is Born is the fourth adaptation of the classic tale of a tortured, hard-drinking celebrity — in this case, a country-western star — who falls in love with a woman on the brink of fame. The $40 million movie has generated significant buzz and critical praise since making the rounds on the fall festival circuit in hopes of being an awards contender. Its current Rotten Tomatoes score is 95 percent.
Comps are tough. In 2014, the adult-skewing thriller Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, opened to $37.5 million over the Oct. 3-5 weekend on its way to grossing $167.8 million domestically.
Overseas, A Star Is Born will roll out more slowly. It bows in a handful of major markets this week, including France, the U.K. and Germany.
A Star Is Born is hardly the other new film hoping to entice awards voters. Another round of fall festival titles are set to open in select runs at the specialty box office, including Fox 2000’s police shooting drama The Hate U Give, starring Amandla Stenberg as a young girl who witnesses a police shooting in George Tillman Jr.’s critically acclaimed adaptation of Angie Thomas’ best-seller; and Zeitgeist’s Studio 54, filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer’s doc about the iconic New York City nightclub Studio 54, which was synonymous with the rise and fall of disco. Both films currently boast a stellar 97 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
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