'Venom' & 'A Star is Born' are Ready to Get October Off to a Strong Start
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Sony's release of Venom topped the charts on Friday with a massive $32.75 million and is looking to easily top the previous October opening weekend record. At this time the studio is projecting a three-day performance around $70.5 million while rival studios anticipate as much as $80+ million for the weekend. The film received a "B+" CinemaScore from opening day audiences, matching the grades for both Suicide Squad and Justice League.

Warner Bros.'s A Star is Born delivered a healthy $15.8 million on Friday, heading toward what is looking like a $42+ million debut. On top of the strong reviews for the film from critics, opening day audiences loved it as well giving the film an "A" CinemaScore.

Additionally, in limited release, Fox's The Hate U Give pulled in a promising $175k from just 36 theaters, heading toward a three-day, limited opening around $550k.

You can check out all of the Friday estimates right here and we'll be back tomorrow morning with a complete look at the weekend.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Sony's Venom took in $10 million from Thursday night previews, which began at 5PM in 3,543 locations. The performance is the largest October preview ever, topping Paranormal Activity 3's $8 million in previews before going on to open with $52.6 million back in 2011. The studio is currently anticipating a $55 million opening weekend, which would put it just shy of Gravity's record October opening of $55.7 million.

Warner Bros.'s A Star is Born took in a total of $4.55 million in previews, which includes $1.35 million from special screenings held on Tuesday and Wednesday. This is better than The Martian's $2.5 million in previews as well as the $1.2 million for Gone Girl and $1.4 million for Gravity.

We'll take a closer look at things tomorrow morning once Friday estimates come in. For now you can check out our weekend preview below.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: October 2018 is primed to get off to a record start with Sony's release of Venom debuting in a massive 4,250 locations, which already serves as the widest October release of all-time. At stake is the October opening weekend record, currently held by Gravity and its $55.7 million debut back in 2013, but things don't end there. On top of that, Warner Bros. is unveiling what is sure to be their latest 2018 hit in the awards contender A Star is Born, which has already made waves on the festival circuit and is now looking at the beginning of what should be a lengthy theatrical run, beginning with an impressive opening of its own.

Forecasting this weekend has been interesting as Sony came out in mid-September with a tracking note for Venom, pointing to a debut around $55-60 million, which would suggest a new October opening weekend record. Since then things haven't changed too much, though mostly negative reviews for the film have resulted in a disappointing Metacritic score of 34 and a 31% on RottenTomatoes. While audiences pre-determined to see the film regardless of reviews will still show up, negative word of mouth following opening day and poor reviews could hurt the film's three-day longevity.

Looking at IMDb page view performance for the $100 million production shows relatively positive momentum, with it slightly outperforming the likes of Ant-Man over the two weeks leading up to release. It's also outpacing films such as Gravity ($55.8m opening) and The Martian ($54.3m opening), while barely outpacing star Tom Hardy's summer 2015 hit Mad Max: Fury Road ($45.4m opening). That being said, the one big difference between those films and Venom is all of them were positively reviewed.

Taking all factors into account, while Sony has pushed the film's debut to a whopping 4,250 theaters, we see this one finishing around $60 million for the weekend. While there is some data that suggests a performance closer to $50 million or as high as $70+ million, the current evidence is mostly pointing toward a debut settling in the middle of that range.

While the question surrounding Venom relates to whether it can live up to pre-weekend tracking, Warner Bros.'s A Star is Born appears to be a movie that could defy tracking expectations. The film enjoyed strong reviews coming out of its Venice premiere, which then led to an equally well-received premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. Now, just days before release, online ticket retailer Fandango.com reports A Star is Born has already sold out hundreds of preview showtimes and is outpacing previous October hits including The Martian, Gravity and Gone Girl at the same point in the Fandango sales cycle. A look at IMDb page view data shows similar performance metrics outside of Gone Girl, which A Star is Born is trailing in comparison to IMDb page view data over the two weeks leading up to release.

Unfortunately, this doesn't entirely paint a clear picture. It's important to remember the openings for both Gravity and The Martian benefit from 3D and IMAX showings, while Gone Girl had one of the most talked about books in some time aiding in its awareness. Of course, fans of star Lady Gaga will certainly come out in support of the film, and are most likely a big reason for the sold out previews, but is that enough to push the film over a $45 million debut? At this time we're looking for a debut anywhere from $38-48 million, but no matter how big it opens it is likely to play well into the thick of awards season.

Moving along, there could be a bit of a battle for third place between last weekend's two new openers, but we're currently giving the edge to WB's animated feature Smallfoot, anticipating a drop around 35% and a $15 million sophomore session. Should the film hold to our expectations we expect it to push toward $43 million by the end of the weekend.

Trailing Smallfoot in fourth we're looking for Universal's comedy Night School to dip around 45% after its $27.3 million debut, pulling in around $14.5 million this weekend for a domestic cume settling just shy of $50 million by end of day Sunday.

Rounding out the top five we expect Universal's family feature The House with a Clock in Its Walls to deliver just over $6 million as it enters its third week in release, looking to finish the weekend with a domestic cume nearing $55 million.

Elsewhere in the top ten, we're expecting WB's Crazy Rich Asians to push just shy of $170 million domestically. Should it perform a bit better this weekend, or hit that mark the following week, Crazy Rich Asians will become only the sixth romantic comedy to ever cross that mark.

Other new releases this weekend include Fox's The Hate U Give, which is opening in 36 locations in advance of its wide debut on October 19. Additionally, Universal is releasing Loving Pablo starring Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz into 15 theaters.

This weekend's forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • Venom (4,250 theaters) - $60.0 M
  • A Star is Born (3,686 theaters) - $42.0 M
  • Smallfoot (4,131 theaters) - $15.0 M
  • Night School (3,019 theaters) - $14.4 M
  • The House With A Clock In Its Walls (3,456 theaters) - $6.3 M
  • A Simple Favor (2,408 theaters) - $3.9 M
  • The Nun (2,264 theaters) - $3.0 M
  • Crazy Rich Asians (1,466 theaters) - $2.7 M
  • Hell Fest (2,297 theaters) - $2.7 M
  • The Predator (1,643 theaters) - $1.6 M

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