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‘Venom’ Besting ‘A Star Is Born’ With $30 Million, ‘First Man’ Launching at $17 Million

Holdover hits “Venom” and “A Star Is Born” are in a battle for first place at the North American box office this weekend with “Venom” prevailing with about $30 million, early estimates showed Friday.

Ryan Gosling’s “First Man” is lifting off with around $17 million for Universal, just ahead of “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” with $16 million. Fox’s opening of “Bad Times at the El Royale” is eyeing about $10 million from 2,850 North American locations. The three openers are all performing in line with forecasts.

Tom Hardy’s “Venom,” which stunned Hollywood last weekend with an $80 million launch, is pegged to decline about 62% to $30 million and wind up its second weekend with a 10-day total of $137 million for Sony. Warner Bros.’ “A Star Is Born” should follow closely with around $28 million at 3,708 venues, showing strong holding power with a decline of only 35%. The Lady Gaga-Bradley Cooper collaboration should end its second frame with a 10-day total of $94 million.

Should estimates hold, “Venom” will be the first repeat winner since “Crazy Rich Asians” won three straight weekends in August.

About a third of the “First Man” $1.1 million total in Thursday night previews came from $370,000 at 404 Imax screens — the highest percentage ever for Thursday night previews of a wide studio release in that format. “First Man,” starring Gosling as astronaut Neil Armstrong, has been forecast to open with $17 million to $20 million at 3,640 sites this weekend.

The Universal movie, directed by Damien Chazelle, follows Armstrong’s life and the years leading up to the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969. Critics have embraced “First Man,” which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and carries an 89% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Studio executives are hopeful that the strong reviews and word-of-mouth will lead to solid holdover numbers in coming weeks

Sony’s animated horror comedy “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” is also debuting this weekend at 3,521 venues, with expectations for a fourth-place finish in the $15 million range as it aims at family audiences. The original opened with $23.6 million in 2015 on its way to an $80 million domestic total.

Fox’s “Bad Times at the El Royale” has been eyeing a range between $8 million and $12 million from 2,808 screens. The cast that includes Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Cynthia Erivo, Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm and Nick Offerman. Critics are supporting the mystery thriller, set at a fictional hotel on the California-Nevada border, with a 75% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The weekend will also see platform launches of Roadside Attractions’ “The Oath,” starring Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz, with a 10-location opening; Sony Classics’ “The Happy Prince,” starring Rupert Everett as Oscar Wilde, playing at eight venues; and Amazon Studios’ father-son drama “Beautiful Boy,” starring Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet, debuting at four sites.

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