The Associated Press
Published 3:14 PM EDT Oct 14, 2018
LOS ANGELES – The Neil Armstrong film "First Man" settled for a third-place landing at the crowded box office in its opening weekend in theaters.
The biopic, starring Ryan Gosling, couldn't unseat last weekend's top two films, "Venom" and "A Star Is Born," which again took first and second place.
"First Man" took flight over the weekend with everything to its advantage: prestige, good reviews (88 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes), a movie star (Gosling) and an Oscar-winning director (Damien Chazelle).
Studios estimated Sunday that "First Man" earned $16.5 million in North American ticket sales and $25 million worldwide. That was on par with expectations, but not exactly an eye-popping number for a space epic that cost nearly $60 million to produce.
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The box-office intake for a film like "First Man," which primarily appeals to older audiences not inclined to rush out to a movie theater on the first weekend, is going to be "a marathon, not a sprint," says Jim Orr, Universal's president of domestic distribution. "For these types of adult fall films for discerning audiences, it's not about the opening weekend. We're very comfortable that it's going to have a long life."
Audiences for the PG-13 rated "First Man" were primarily older (52 percent above 35), male (56 percent) and white (67 percent) and gave the film a B-plus on CinemaScore.
"I never expected 'First Man' to have an opening weekend trajectory that was off the charts," says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for tracker comScore. "This is a film that's going to keep rolling along and getting more and more accolades. 'First Man' will be standing many weeks down the road."
Tom Hardy's comic-book film "Venom," meanwhile, continues to belie poor reviews in its second weekend. The film added $35.7 million in ticket sales, down 56 percent from its first weekend, to repeat at No. 1. The film has earned $142.8 million to date domestically.
On the other end of the critical spectrum, Bradley Cooper's "A Star Is Born" rode a wave of goodwill and awards discussion into its second weekend, adding $28 million. With a domestic total of $94.2 million, the remake starring Cooper and Lady Gaga will sail past $100 million in no time.
Fourth place went to family-friendly "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween," which took in $16.2 million (down from the first film's $23.6 million launch in 2015). The animated Yeti movie "Smallfoot" was fifth with $9.3 million in its second weekend.
Star-studded "Bad Times At The El Royale," with Chris Hemsworth, Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm and Dakota Johnson, opened in seventh place with $7.2 million.
The well-reviewed young-adult film "The Hate U Give," meanwhile, performed well in its expansion. The drama about the police shooting of a black teenager managed to crack the top 10 playing in only 248 locations, placing ninth with $1.8 million. It goes into wide release next weekend. And Timothee Chalamet and Steve Carell's addiction drama "Beautiful Boy" opened on four screens to $221,437 for a massive per-screen average of more than $55,000.
With so many new films at the multiplex, from big-budget blockbusters to awards dramas, audiences are helping propel October to record earnings. It also means some movies are getting lost in the shuffle.
"There is a relentless onslaught of hits that keep on coming from every genre," Dergarabedian says. "People are a little overwhelmed right now. There's a bevy of riches at the marketplace and some films are going to struggle on opening weekend."
Final figures are expected Monday.
Contributing: Kim Willis