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'Venom' to lose a little sting as 'First Man' lifts off

With a man in space and an alien on earth, the October box office should continue its otherworldly upside streak.

Debut flick "First Man" is looking for a successful launch, but it will likely continue to be eclipsed by recording-breaking alien superhero movie "Venom," which stung the competition in the prior weekend with a $205.2 million global gross, an October record both at home and abroad, according to Deadline Hollywood. The musical remake "A Star is Born," with Lady Gaga leading alongside Bradley Cooper, also outstripped expectations to harmonize the overall box office.

SNL Image"First Man"
Source: Universal Pictures

However, "Venom" could slow down in its sophomore weekend as certain specialty showings fall off the schedule, BoxOffice.com predicts, pinning a $30 million Oct. 12 weekend forecast on the superhero flick. The title landed over $80 million in its Oct. 5 weekend debut. BoxOffice.com also is looking for "A Star is Born" to keep shining bright with its own $30 million second-weekend gross.

The forecaster predicts top-selling debut film "First Man" will find an opening orbit near $20 million. The Hollywood Reporter provides some downside, putting the space-flight epic in an opening range of $18 million to $20 million. Variety generally agrees with a $20 million forecast, but provides some upside, saying some prognosticators think the title could fly more than $25 million.

Ryan Gosling stars in the Universal Pictures biopic, portraying astronaut Neil Armstrong as his life leads him to the historic launch of the Apollo 11 spacecraft mission to the moon in 1969. The $60 million production compares well with other space epics like "Gravity," "Hidden Figures" and Tom Hanks' "Apollo 13," according to a list of comparisons from Kagan, a media-industry research group inside S&P Global Market Intelligence. The list shows an average opening of $25.6 million against an average production budget of $61.7 million, leading to net profits of $119.4 million.

Critics are certainly over the moon about the new film, giving "First Man" an 89% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as of 11:15 a.m. ET on Oct. 12.

Two other debut films will run up against "First Man" and the leading holdovers. BoxOffice.com expects "Goosebumps: Haunted Halloween" to come in fourth place with an $18.6 million opening, scratching at the heels of "First Man." Variety puts a range of $15 million to $21 million on the family-friendly holiday title. The Reporter lowers that range a notch to $14 million to $20 million.

The 2015 "Goosebumps" movie, based on the popular children's books by R.L. Stine and voiced by Jack Black, beat expectations with a $23.6 million opening. While forecasters generally expect a lower result for the Columbia Pictures followup, the debut film carries a lower production budget than its predecessor, $35 million compared to $58.8 million, so a slightly slower start could still set the new film off on to a profitable theatrical run. The original "Goosebumps" exited theaters with $28.6 million in net profits.

The strong forecasts come despite the second Goosebumps title carrying a much worse critical response than the first. The debut film was running a 38% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as of 11:15 a.m. ET on Oct. 12. Its predecessor settled to a 77% "Certified Fresh" rating.

Lastly, 21st Century Fox Inc.'s movie studio will launch "Bad Times at the El Royale," a critically acclaimed mystery thriller that was running a solid 77% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes at the same time. However, despite the strong reception, forecasters generally expect the title to have trouble breaking the $10 million mark. The bull case comes from Variety, which offers a forecast range that tops out at $12 million. Variety also reports that some outlooks put the film as high as $17 million.

Kagan compares "Bad Times at the El Royale" with titles like "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," "A History of Violence" and horror mystery film "The Cabin in the Woods," which was also directed by Drew Goddard. Those comparisons saw an average opening of $16.1 million and average net profits of $3.4 million, mostly due to the relatively strong performance of "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," which left theaters with net profits of $70.8 million. The other films in the comparison group exited theaters in the red.

SNL Image