Damien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong biopic First Man blasted off this weekend with awards season aspirations and critical acclaim, but it’s hitting some turbulence at the box office. The Universal Pictures release is on track to sell an estimated $16.5 million in tickets at 3,640 theaters in the U.S. and Canada from Friday through Sunday, landing in third place behind Sony’s Venom and Warner Bros’. A Star Is Born, both of which bowed last week.
Starring Ryan Gosling as Armstrong and made for about $59 million, First Man had been projected to open in the $18 million to $20 million range. Since wowing audiences at the Venice International Film Festival in August, the drama has collected excellent reviews, while moviegoers gave it a less-than-stellar B-plus CinemaScore. Overseas, First Man will add about $8.6 million this weekend.
Reteaming Chazelle and Gosling after hit 2016 musical La La Land, First Man chronicles Armstrong’s journey to become the first man to walk on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. The film is written by Josh Singer and also stars Claire Foy, Corey Stoll, Pablo Schreiber, Jason Clarke, and Kyle Chandler.
Topping the box office for the second weekend in a row is the comic book movie Venom, with an estimated $35.7 million (from 4,250 domestic theaters). That figure represents a respectable decline of 56 percent from the movie’s debut, and it brings the North American total to $142.8 million after 10 days in theaters.
Overseas, Venom will take in about $69.7 million, bringing its worldwide total to $378.1 million.
Based on the titular Spider-Man villain (but not related to last year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming), Venom stars Tom Hardy as a journalist who becomes bonded to an extraterrestrial life form that grants him extraordinary powers and has a taste for human flesh. Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) directed. Critics panned the movie, but audiences gave it a B-plus CinemaScore.
Taking second place this weekend and holding strong is Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s music-driven romantic drama A Star Is Born, with an estimated $28 million (on 3,708 screens) — a drop of just 35 percent from last week’s bow.
Ten days in, the film has grossed $94.2 million in North America and $41.2 million overseas (for a global total of $135.4 million).
Cooper makes his directing debut on the fourth (or fifth) incarnation of a timeless Hollywood tale, which this time centers on a hard-living country music star (played by Cooper) who mentors and falls for a talented young singer-songwriter (Gaga). With star power and glowing reviews, the film is pegged as a serious Oscar contender with mass appeal.
Arriving alongside First Man this weekend are Sony’s kid-friendly sequel Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, with an estimated $16.2 million, good for fourth place, and Fox’s thriller Bad Times at the El Royale, with an estimated $7.2 million, putting it in the No. 7 spot.
In limited release, Amazon Studios’ awards hopeful Beautiful Boy will gross an estimated $221,437 in four theaters, which works out to an impressive per-screen average of $55,359. Steve Carrell and Timothee Chalamet star in the addiction drama, which is directed by Felix van Groeningen.
Overall box office is up 9.8 percent year-to-date, according to ComScore. See the Oct. 12-14 figures below.
1. Venom — $35.7 million
2. A Star Is Born — $28 million
3. First Man — $16.5 million
4. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween — $16.2 million
5. Smallfoot — $9.3 million
6. Night School — $8 million
7. Bad Times at the El Royale — $7.2 million
8. The House With a Clock in Its Walls — $4 million
9. The Hate U Give — $1.8 million
10. A Simple Favor — $1.4 million