It’s here. It’s finally here.
After 21 years (yes, 21) after it was first considered a viable project, Sony’s ‘Venom’ hits U.S. shores on Friday, looking to dim the light of Bradley Cooper’s ‘A Star is Born’. The Spider-Man spinoff ‘Venom’, starring Tom Hardy and Riz Ahmed, aims to kick things off with a $65m gross, making it the biggest opening for an October release ever, comfortably beating ‘Gravity’s $55.8m from 2013.
This isn’t to say that ‘A Star is Born’ won’t open big. The R-rated musical, the 3rd remake of the 1937 classic, should earn $40m in its first 3 days – just under ‘High School Musical 3: Senior Year’s $42m to become the 3rd biggest opening for a musical ever. There’s a strong belief that the $36m-budgeted Warner Bros. flick could even break $50m, a figure that transforms the romantic drama from light counter-programming to a viable competitor for ‘Venom’.
Differing audiences aside, it’s easy to see why: both films are fronted by Hollywood A-listers, (Cooper, Gaga, Sam Elliott, & Dave Chappelle vs. Hardy, Ahmed, Michelle Williams, & Jenny Slate), and both stem from pretty popular source material. Lady Gaga fans have even taken to creating fake Twitter accounts to trash ‘Venom’ and bolster the musical’s opening figures, as if the Sony/Marvel film’s 30% Tomatometer score isn’t hurting it enough.
The apparent hurt may even have dulled the excitement for ‘Venom’, which had been flying high for months (the April trailer even broke into the top 20 most-watched worldwide ever within 24 hours). While a few at first predicted an opening closer to $100m, tracking has fallen to under $70m, for an opening close to ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’.
This may still be good enough to kick off the franchise Sony hoped for, especially as its international release from 59 markets this weekend (not including Japan and China) may bring in an additional $100m. The film, directed by ‘Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer, features journalist Eddie Brock (Hardy), who investigates the operations of the Life Foundation and its CEO, Carlton Drake (Ahmed), but gets attached to an alien symbiote.
‘A Star is Born’, on the other hand, is a critical hit that’s even been touted for awards come the end of the year. After working its way through various festivals (Venice, Toronto, San Sebastián, and Zurich), it’s now boasting 93% on Rotten Tomatoes to further bolster audience anticipation. It stars Cooper (who also directed, produced, and wrote) as musician Jackson Maine, who falls for young, unknown singer Ally (Lady Gaga).
Looking past the opening weekend, we can’t see ‘Venom’ having as strong a run as ‘A Star is Born’. B.O. runs like Sony’s previous ‘Spider-Man’ films with similar critical receptions (‘TASM 2’ and ‘Spider-Man 3’) have ‘Venom’ barely reaching $150m, while ‘A Star is Born’ could have a chance of reaching $200m domestically. It’s the final gross that studios ultimately look upon, meaning while ‘Venom’ will be happy winning the opening weekend battle, it’ll be the longer legs (sorry, lungs) of ‘A Star is Born’ that’ll win it the domestic war.
Elsewhere, last weekend’s top 2 ‘Night School’ and ‘Smallfoot’ continue their own battle, looking to gross close to $13m respectively. Slasher film ‘Hell Fest’ will remain in the top ten by the skin of its teeth, earning around $2m to bring its domestic figure to $10m.
It’s unlikely, but could ‘A Star is Born’ muster a surprise to win this weekend? Where do you see both films ending? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.