A Star Is Born is, thus far, living up to its title. The Bradley Cooper-directed remake of an oft-remade 1937 melodrama earned a frankly huge $4.55 million in Thursday previews last night. That includes $1.35m in Tuesday and Wednesday sneak preview grosses. But, let’s be honest, anyone who was going to see this movie on a Tuesday night would otherwise have shown up last night. And even a $3.2m Thursday gross would have been huge for a movie like this.
As a general rule, movies that aren’t superhero sequels, young adult fantasy flicks or the like don’t score huge Thursday figures. More importantly, the Thursday gross ends up being a very small part of its opening weekend. For example, Gravity earned $2 million in 2013 on this weekend on Thursday and ended up with $55m, while The Martian ended up likewise in 2015 with a $2.5m Thursday.
No, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga musical romance is heading for a $100m debut weekend. But even if it performs like a conventional fan-driven blockbuster, we may be in for a huge weekend. Even a somewhat more frontloaded “Thursday”-to-weekend figure would be a big win for Warner Bros.’ $36 million-budget Oscar contender.
With strong reviews, scorchingly positive buzz and a shocking lack of any pre-release backlash thus far, the sky may be the limit. For example, Bradley Cooper’s American Sniper earned $5.3 million in Thursday previews at the start of its MLK Day weekend wide expansion and ended up with a wide debut of $89m Fri-Sun/$109m Fri-Mon. In that case, the Thursday gross (huge for an R-rated war actioner that wasn’t a fantasy or a comic book sequel) made up 5.9% of the Fri-Sun weekend.
Yes, Monday is Columbus Day but that’s generally not a huge holiday. So let’s just look at the Fri-Sun figure at the moment. If Warner Bros., MGM and Live Nation Productions ‘A Star Is Born plays like American Sniper, then a $4.55 million Thursday translates to a $77m Fri-Sun weekend take. More realistically, this is a bunch of Little Monsters flooding the theaters on Thursday night, but even an MCU-like 10% gives it a $46m debut weekend. A 12% split (The Dark Knight) gives it a still-solid $38m debut weekend.