Packing a one-two punch seldom scene in the movie business, and positively unheard of for October, Sony’s Venom and Warners’ A Star Is Bornobliterated box office records this past weekend. Venom became the highest grossing October opening ever and A Star Is Born happily joined the box office party and currently sits at #10 on the list of largest openings ever for the month. To say a combined $120 million box office take between two titles in October is a rarity is a supreme understatement.
A few weeks back I wrote that, due to the lack of IP tent-poles this holiday season,the movie business faced the possibility of landing in the red for the year after enjoying a scintillating summer that pushed both attendance and box office revenue northward from a lackluster 2017. While November and December certainly has the market cornered on quantity of films, there isn’t a Star Wars entry to compete with prior holiday seasons and that could erase the gains the industry spent the year giddily accumulating.
What most in the film business didn’t see coming was a start to October on this grand scale . Most projections showed Venom in the $55-60 million range (it debuted to $80 million) and A Star Is Born in the low to mid 30’s (it came in at a blistering $41 million) but moviegoers are proving to the business once again that it’s all about quality. Bradley Cooper’s musical remake was a hit not only with moviegoers (its CinemaScore grade was a straight A) but also with critics (a lofty 92 Rotten Tomatoes score) and while Tom Hardy’s Venom character might not have been to the critics’ liking, Marvel fans proved it was a worthy addition to the Universe. Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst for comScore, explains, “The box office trajectory of 2018 continues in an upward arc as the best October weekend ever proves once again that when Hollywood throws out the rule book and ignores conventional wisdom, the results can be staggering.”
So what does this all mean? This weekend’s record haul has pushed attendance to more than 4% up from last year and revenue to an increase of nearly 9%. And, as radio DJ’s used to say, the hits just keep on coming. Damien Chazelle’s First Man with Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy, is slated open in the $30 million range, the latest entry in the Goosebumps franchise should get to the high teens and the horror floodgates open on October 19th when Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role in Halloween. Look for a $50 million or higher debut there.
If all goes according to plan during the month, the movie business should enter the holiday season enjoying a 5% advantage in attendance over 2017 and possibly a 10% lead in revenue from last year. In addition, because movies like A Star Is Born and First Man are quality films, they should theoretically play well into the start of November, a rarity for a film in October.
That should go a long way to fending off a December void of a trip to a galaxy far, far away.
Box office figures and ratings courtesy of comScore, Box Office Mojo, Rotten Tomatoes and CinemaScore