Courtesy of Marvel Studios; Warner Bros.
‘Venom,’ ‘A Star Is Born’

It’s a star-packed weekend at the box office as Tom Hardy, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper grace the marquee.

Sony’s comic book movie Venom slithered to a potent $10 million in Thursday-night previews at the North American box office, while Warner Bros.’ critical darling A Star Is Born likewise impressed in collecting $3.2 million, a sweet number for an adult-skewing movie.

Venom‘s start marks an October record in terms of previews. And, combined with special screenings on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in select theaters, Star Is Born ‘s early total is $4.6 million.

Thanks to the very different pair of films, the first weekend of October could set records, both in terms of biggest opening and overall revenue. To date, the top October domestic debut of all time belongs to Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, which blasted off with $55.7 million in 2013, not adjusted for inflation.

Venom, starring Tom Hardy as the Marvel antihero, is expected to top the chart with a domestic debut in the $57 million-$65 million range. One tracking service even suggests $70 million, while Sony remains more conservative in projecting $55 million. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, the $100 million pic co-stars Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze and Reid Scott.

In terms of its preview gross, Venom easily beat the $6.4 million collected this summer by Disney and Marvel’s sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp. It remains to be seen how front-loaded Venom is, and whether it can withstand generally withering reviews. The good news for Sony is that there isn’t another superhero offering until Aquaman in December.

A Star Is Born marks Cooper’s feature directorial debut. He also stars in the film opposite mega-recording artist Lady Gaga in her first lead role as an actress. The music-infused romantic drama is tracking to open to $30 million plus, although more bullish observers believe it could cross $40 million in its domestic launch.

Costing a relatively modest $40 million to produce — Live Nation Productions is a partner on the movie — 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 month of October has never been viewed as a corridor for mega-openings; rather, films — and especially adult-skewing titles and awards contenders such as A Star Is Born — can enjoy a long run.

In 2014, the adult-fueled 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. A wild card in the case of A Star Is Born are younger Lady Gaga fans, dubbed “Little Monsters.”

A Star Is Born presently boasts a Rotten Tomatoes score of 93 percent, compared to 30 percent for Venom.

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