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Box Office: ‘Venom’ Faces Off Against ‘A Star Is Born’

Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, and Tom Hardy are injecting a little star-power into multiplexes.

Following a lackluster September at the box office, “Venom” and “A Star Is Born” are debuting this weekend and carrying with them out-sized expectations. Hardy’s “Venom” should easily top domestic charts, but Cooper and Gaga’s musical “A Star Is Born,” which enjoys rapturous critical reviews, will still manage a healthy bow.

Sony is tempering predictions for “Venom” and is projecting that the symbiote standalone adventure with all the bloodletting that a PG-13 rating will permit, will sink its teeth into a $55 million three-day launch. Industry analysts are more bullish, estimating the superhero film could make as much as $65 million to $70 million this weekend when it opens across 4,250 locations. A debut over $55 million would rank as the biggest October opening ever. Alfonso Cuaron’s 2013 drama “Gravity” currently holds that record with $55.8 million.

The studio is touting “Venom” as a darker-than-your-average Marvel movie, but there are still plenty of comic moments. This antihero definitely isn’t hanging around your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man — he’s chomping off heads and not even pausing to take names. Sony is hoping “Venom” will launch a shared universe similar to Disney’s successful Marvel franchise, though separate from the studio’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” world. “Zombieland” director Ruben Fleischer helmed the film, which carries a lofty $100 million budget. Hardy portrays Eddie Brock, a journalist bound to the alien entity known as Venom. The cast also includes Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, and Jenny Slate.

“Venom” is targeting a vastly different audience than “A Star Is Born,” but Lady Gaga fans are making sure her film isn’t getting lost in the shuffle. Fear not, internet trolls. It is possible both movies will premiere with solid starts. Estimates show Warner Bros.’ “A Star Is Born” launching with $28 million to $30 million from 3,500 venues, though tracking shows that number could climb past $40 million given hype around Cooper’s directorial debut. It has a much smaller price tag than “Venom” with a production cost around $36 million. If “A Star Is Born” performs like last year’s unexpected hit “The Greatest Showman,” it could keep packing them in for weeks.

“A Star Is Born” will likely benefit from glowing word of mouth. It’s already stirring up awards season buzz following this year’s Venice and Toronto Film Festivals. Cooper portrays an alcoholic singer who discovers and falls in love with an up-and-coming artist, played by Gaga in her first leading role. Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle, and Sam Elliot co-star in the third remake of the original 1937 film. It was previously adapted into a 1954 musical starring Judy Garland and a 1976 film with Barbra Streisand as the world’s least convincing rock star. Streisand’s take on the film, co-starring Kris Kristofferson, generated a huge $80 million, which translates to a $348 million cume when adjusted for inflation.

At the specialty box office, Fox is opening the coming-of-age drama “The Hate U Give” on 34 screens. The movie, based on Angie Thomas’ bestselling YA novel, centers on race and police brutality. Amandla Stenberg stars alongside Issa Rae, and Regina Hall. Meanwhile, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem’s crime drama “Loving Pablo” premieres in 10 theaters. Set in the early ’80s, the film follows a Colombian journalist who begins an affair with drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

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