Tom Hardy’s “Venom” earned an impressive $10 million at 3,543 North American locations on Thursday night — the top October preview number of all time.
Lady Gaga’s musical drama “A Star Is Born” launched with a solid $4.6 million in previews, with $3.2 million from Thursday and $1.4 million from sneak showings on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Sony’s “Venom,” starring Hardy as a fearsome anithero, is expanding Friday to 4,250 venues, with expectations ranging from $55 million to $70 million for the weekend. It’s likely to become the top October opener, besting the record set in 2013 by Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” with $55.8 million.
The “Venom” previews began at 5 p.m. Sony is hoping “Venom” will launch a shared universe similar to Disney’s successful Marvel franchise. “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.
Estimates indicates that Warner Bros.’ “A Star Is Born” will launch with $28 million to $30 million from 3,686 venues, though tracking shows that number could climb past $40 million, given hype around Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut. It has a much smaller price tag than “Venom,” with a production cost around $36 million.
“A Star Is Born” will likely benefit from glowing word of mouth. It’s already stirring up awards-season buzz following its Venice and Toronto film festival showings. 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.
The Thursday night preview number for “A Star Is Born” in a near-match for “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again,” which grossed $3.4 million on July 19 on its way to an opening weekend of $34.9 million.
“Venom” and “A Star Is Born” are coming into the market on the heels of a solid September, the second best of all time behind only last year’s. Overall domestic business for 2018 has totaled $8.93 billion as of Oct. 3, up 8.1% over last year.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, said, “The biggest overall weekend in October box office history is potentially in the cards as a perfectly programmed opening lineup boasting Sony’s much-anticipated Marvel entry ‘Venom’ and Warner Bros.’ awards-season favorite and possible Oscar contender ‘A Star Is Born’ will harmonize a boffo box office tune that could ignite the spark for what could become the best performing month of October of all time.”