While ‘Venom’ and ‘A Star is Born’ both improved their strongholds atop the Box Office charts, earning $35m and $28.4m respectively, the real story lies in the disappointing opening gross of Ryan Gosling’s ‘First Man’.
The Neil Armstrong biopic earned just $16m domestically, and $24.6m worldwide, in its first 3 days. This was, of course, way under even the most pessimistic of expectations, causing concern for studio heads over at Universal, who greenlit the $59m project.
Helmed by ‘La La Land’ and ‘Whiplash’ director Damien Chazelle, the film also stars Claire Foy, and was written by ‘Spotlight’ and ‘The Post’ writer Josh Singer. It follows Neil Armstrong (Gosling) in the lead-up to the moon landing of 1969, and has been lauded by the critics, boasting a strong 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Audiences, however, aren’t as keen, leading to doubts that the film will be able to gain any momentum in coming weeks. An audience score of just 61% on RT, as well as an okay B+ on Cinemascore may seriously harm its legs. With award season approaching, the worst possible outcome would be for the Oscar hopeful ‘First Man’ to not emulate ‘Argo’s run ($19.5m opening, $136m domestic total) and not be front-of-mind come December.
We’re reminded of last October’s ‘Blade Runner 2049’, another Gosling-fronted critical darling whose low opening condemned it in the Box Office. Its $32.8m opening stands as Gosling’s biggest ever (‘First Man’ is infact his 4th), perhaps an indication of him not being a Box Office draw (although, outside of The Rock, it’s hard to see who really is). Or maybe the audiences, who were 56% male, just aren’t too keen on biographical dramas marketed as action-thrillers. Regardless, ‘First Man’s opening was still enough to nab 3rd place, just ahead of Sony’s ‘Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween’s $15.8m.
As expected, the sequel to 2015s ‘Goosebumps’ couldn’t live up to its predecessor’s $23.6m start in the face of heavy PG competition, like ‘Smallfoot’ and the worryingly-similar ‘The House With a Clock in Its Walls’. The latter even starred the same actor in Jack Black, and has the superior critical reception on the Tomatometer (67% vs. ‘G2’s 39%). A domestic finish around $50m is expected for ‘Goosebumps 2’, who won’t face any major competition until Disney’s ‘The Nutcracker’ opens in early November.
To the top of the table now, where ‘Venom’ continued, in its sophomore weekend, to surprise commercially, baffle critically, but please cinemagoers everywhere. Now sitting on $377m worldwide (including $142.1m in the States) after 2 weekends, it already marks Tom Hardy’s 6th biggest ever film both in the U.S. and in the world.
Bradley Cooper’s ‘A Star is Born’, again in second place, is starting to really stretch its Box Office legs, now boasting a 2.2x opening weekend multiplier after 10 days of release – leaving it just $6m short of reaching $100m domestically. The Warner Bros. release has also grossed $42m internationally, including $12.3m from the U.K.
The top ten’s final new wide release went to ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’, the unfortunate flop of the weekend. Grossing just $7.1m (a full $10m under our forecast, oops) off of a $32m budget, we can’t see much of a future for this 20th Century Fox thriller. A B- on Cinemascore and 71% on the RT won’t nearly be enough to save it from being another Fox 2018 disappointment, after ‘The Darkest Minds’ and ‘The Predator’.
In a poor weekend for the new releases, it was good news for ‘Venom’ and ‘A Star is Born’. How far can they go, and is there any hope left for ‘First Man’? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.