There’s money in that first weekend of October and studios have been tapping the frame for some time, trying to pump more and more out of it. Gravity took the frame to a record opening with $55.7M in 2013 and 20th Century Fox came close with The Martian three years ago when it debuted to $54.3M. Further proof of how studios want to turn this October weekend into a serious blockbuster playground: Warner Bros. has Todd Phillip’s DC Joker movie scheduled for Oct. 4 next year.
This year though Gravity‘s opening record is bound to be shattered finally as Sony opens its Marvel title Venom on Oct. 5,but there’s bound to be even more traffic from Warner Bros. awards season darling A Star Is Born. Both hit tracking this morning and industry estimates are wild for Venom ranging from $60M-$70M+. Sony insiders are being conservative noting that no other release in October has ever exceeded Gravity‘s opening. But, of course, the whole notion of the off-season at the box office was thrown out the window some time ago; if the film’s an event, moviegoers aren’t staying at home –school or no school in session. Currently Venom is strongest among males both younger & older but also very strong with females as well. Definite interest is in the mid 50s in tracking numbers. Production cost for Venom is reportedly around $100M, however, Tencent from China is covering 33% of the budget we hear.
The big asterisk here on Venom is how its reviews turnout plus audience sentiment; that will determine if the pic falls below a $60M opening. Projections last November propped Justice League higher to $110M-$120M days before it opened, but reviews at 40% Rotten and a B+ CinemaScore dropped the pic to a $93.8M 3-day. Why is the industry seeing Venom so high? That’s because of its high numbers on tracking, and the competition and the marketplace that it’s opening against. Hello!? It’s the first big event film of the fall, and it’s a comic-book movie. The studio is trying to sell Venom as a Marvel anti-hero movie and not part of the Spider-Man universe. That marketing verbiage should be re-considered ASAP especially for the uninitiated they hope to get into the door. Venom is an iconic Spider-Man universe character that was introduced in Spider-Man 3 and played by Topher Grace. Harp on that, especially when re-introducing the character to overseas audiences. It’s similar to the time when Warner Bros. first announced A Star Is Born starring Stefani Germanotta. They realized very early on that name wouldn’t strike a chord with average moviegoers, and promptly mentioned going forward in all materials that the pic stars Lady Gaga.
A Star Is Born will counterprogram Sony’s beast and is currently strong with women over 25 with a definite internet in the mid 30s. A mid to high $20Ms start is the sweet spot right now and a solid first chord to be struck on this Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper film. Tickets went on sale on Fandango and Atom Tickets yesterday. Word is Venom tickets go on sale tomorrow.
As we always write with these B.O. projection stories four weekends out is that predictions can go up or down by Oct. 5. Venom hasn’t even been shown yet to critics, but A Star Is Born has, and it’s what every studio covets: 95% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.