October has kicked off with the biggest weekend in the month’s box office history, thanks to the release of Columbia’s “Venom” and Warner Bros.’ “A Star Is Born.” “Venom” leads the charts with an $80 million opening from 4,250 screens, blowing by the $55.7 million start of “Gravity” to set the new top opening for an October release.
Even though it has been mostly panned by critics with a 32 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, fans of Spider-Man’s antihero counterpart embraced the film, giving it a B+ on CinemaScore.
With a reported budget of $100 million, Sony has kept costs down for the first of several planned Spidey spinoffs, as the film has earned an estimated global start of $205 million. Korea was the top overseas market with $16.4 million, followed by Russia with $13.6 million. Those totals already beat the lifetimes for “Justice League” and “Wonder Woman” in those countries.
The longterm success of “Venom” will depend on whether interest from hardcore fans will lead to general audiences seeing the film in the coming weeks. If not, it may end up being a more front-loaded film like “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which opened to $91 million but just barely passed the $200 million domestic mark during its run. On the international side, the film, which was co-financed by Tencent, has yet to receive a release date in China.
“A Star Is Born,” meanwhile, has earned one of the top 10 largest October openings ever with a $42.6 million start from 3,686 screens. Made on a budget said to be approximately $36-40 million, Bradley Cooper’s awards contender is expected to have a long shelf life at the box office, with a domestic run of more than $150 million based on previous wide releases like “Gone Girl.”
Though a likely Oscar winner like “A Star Is Born” can’t really be called counter-programming, it was certainly an alternative that women and older audiences took while the majority of younger men went to go see “Venom.” According to WB, two-thirds of the audience was female, while 68 percent was over the age of 35.
The success of “A Star Is Born” can also be seen on iTunes, where songs from the film’s soundtrack currently occupy five of the top six spots on the site’s download charts. Leading the way is Lady Gaga’s “Shallow,” which was dropped as a single prior to the film’s release.
Combined, the two new film releases have pushed total grosses for the weekend to over $170 million, passing the $158 million made during the opening weekend of “The Martian” in 2015 for the biggest weekend in October box office history.
Last week’s release, “Smallfoot,” finished third with $14.4 million and a $42.2 million 10-day total, followed by Universal’s “Night School” with $12.3 million and a $46.7 million 10-day total. Universal’s “The House With a Clock in Its Walls” completes the top five with $7.3 million in its third weekend.