Damien Chazelle’s First Man is projected to have an uphill climb at the box office this weekend, opening in the shadow of Venom and A Star is Born. The director is reuniting with his La La Land leading man Ryan Gosling on the project, which chronicles Neil Armstrong’s arduous journey to become the first man to walk on the moon. After screening at various film festivals earlier this year, the film is established as one of the top contenders for the next Academy Awards.
First Man finally makes its theatrical debut this weekend, where it will look to continue October’s hot start at the multiplex. The one-two punch of Venom and A Star is Born revitalized the marketplace after a fairly slow September, with the former breaking records and the latter posting a strong haul of nearly $43 million. With both getting off to strong starts, they’re likely to have leggy runs commercially, which will make it difficult for newcomers to draw sizable audiences. Despite being the fresh film on the block, First Man looks like it’ll finish last in the race of the big three.
Per Box Office Pro, First Man is estimated to earn about $20 million over its first three days. That would be good enough for third place, behind repeating champ Venom ($30 million) and A Star is Born ($27 million). With strong word-of-mouth in its corner, First Man should be able to top this week’s other new releases, Goosebumps: Haunted Halloween ($18.6 million) and Bad Times at the El Royale ($8.3 million).
As stated above, critics consider First Man to be one of the year’s best films, so its relatively muted commercial projections aren’t caused by poor quality. Instead, it looks to be a matter of poor timing. Arriving on the heels of two massive hits is a tall order for just about any movie, no matter how acclaimed it is. What’s more is that some found First Man to be too emotionally distant and cold – despite being based on one of the most inspiring accomplishments in human history. In contrast, Venom is a four-quadrant blockbuster that’s highly entertaining to watch (all its faults aside) and A Star is Born is a touching love story fueled by a powerful soundtrack. Chazelle’s film could end up being the least accessible of the weekend’s big trio. That being said, it will find an audience – particularly cinephiles curious to see another Oscar player.
Another box office development that will be fascinating to watch this weekend is how steep Venom’s fall is. As evidenced by its debut weekend, audiences were interested in seeing it, but the comic book adaptation was hamstrung by widely negative reviews, which could impact its legs. Still, it doesn’t have any direct competition for its target demographic, so in all likelihood, Venom will continue to thrive in its second weekend, giving Sony extra confidence to move ahead on other Spider-villain films.
Source: Box Office Pro