Following through on good vibes from its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival last weekend, Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers exceeded even the loftiest expectations for its debut. The numbers may not have been enough to take the top spot from Pennywise, but the film’s opening is an important win for STX Films.
STX’s previous best opening weekend was Bad Moms back in July 2016, with A Bad Moms Christmas taking the company’s second spot. This year’s surprise success, The Upside, which grossed over $108 million, was also a top grosser for STX. Hustlers’ $33.2 million start is higher than the total domestic grosses of the company’s other 2019 releases, The Best of Enemies, UglyDolls, and Poms, as well as 14 of its other 23 releases.
The 13th-highest opening ever in September shows some real potential for Hustlers if word-of-mouth grows on the 87%-approved stripper crime drama. Six of the 11 films to open this month between $29 million and $35 million have gone on to reach the $100 million mark (though two of them were the kid-friendly Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs films). Jennifer Lopez has never appeared in a live-action film to reach that milestone. Her highest-grossing films to date have been Maid in Manhattan ($94.01 million) and Monster-in-Law ($82.9 million). Hustlers is poised to already beat her third-best grosser (Anaconda’s $65.8 million) and any way you slice it, the $20 million production is likely to be STX’s biggest success ever after Bad Moms — and its second with Lopez after last December’s Second Act grossed more than $72 million globally on just a $16 million budget.
As prestige projects go, always beware the ones released in late August and early September. Case in point: Warner Bros.’ The Goldfinch. Technically in award season and even given a premiere at the Toronto Film Festival last week, John Crowley’s two-and-a-half-hour film has been poorly received by critics (24%) and now even moreso by audiences. A $2.64 million opening weekend is a disaster for the $45 million production, though hardly the first for the studio this year. Godzilla: King of the Monsters, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, and The Kitchen have all registered losses of more than $45 million each, and now The Goldfinch looks to be joining them. By the end of its run it should be the lowest-grossing wide release Warner Bros. has released in September since 2005’s disaster A Sound of Thunder, which cost $80 million and grossed just $1.9 million domestically and $11.6 million worldwide.
It – the first one – dropped 51.3 percent in its second week, grossing more than $60 million. It: Chapter Two, already well behind the pace of the first, dropped 55 percent to $40.7 million this weekend. That means it is starting to fall behind the pace of Doctor Strange, which made $42.9 million in its second weekend, but remains still ahead of Logan, which grossed $38.1 million in weekend two. Both of those films had $152.9 million after ten days while It: Chapter Two has $153.8 million. That puts its current final estimate between $226-232 million, potentially a full $100 million less than the first chapter. Its worldwide total stands at $323 million and is already well into profit.
Running down some of the big winners in the top ten we find that The Lion King has passed $1.61 billion worldwide and Hobbs & Shaw is over $740 million, still nearly a half-billion less than The Fate of the Furious. Universal also has a bonafide hit with Good Boys despite still hoping to cross the $100 million mark globally. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is in about the same boat as Good Boys, with $91 million worldwide, and is a hit for Lionsgate. As is Angel Has Fallen, which hasn’t started its global run yet, but is at more than $60 million domestic and even an average total overseas will put it into the black.
Roadside’s The Peanut Butter Falcon passed $15 million this weekend, making it the seventh-highest-grossing film in the company’s history. A film that was hoping to replicate that success was Amazon’s Brittany Runs a Marathon, which finally entered wide release this weekend. But the company may have waited too long: Expanding into 757 theaters in its fifth week netted the film $1.55 million, which may look comparable to Moonlight moving from 176 to 650 theaters in week five and earning $1.48 million, but that film still had an entire award season in front of it. Last award season Amazon moved Beautiful Boy from 540 to 776 theaters in the same period and it earned $1.45 million. Brittany is ahead of that film’s pace with $3.8 million to date and may indeed pass it to become the company’s second-highest grossing film after this summer’s Late Night.
Shane Black’s attempted reboot of The Predator took the top spot at the box office with $24.6 million. It would eventually be outgrossed by the week’s third-place finisher, A Simple Favor, which started with $16 million and finished with $53.4 million, the second-best multiple of last September (3.34) for a wide release. The Nun fell a whopping 66.1 percent to second place with $18.2 million. Other new openers included White Boy Rick, which started in fourth with $8.86 million, and the continued story of Louis Zamperini in Unbroken: Path to Redemption, which opened in tenth to just $2.23 million. The top ten films grossed $94 million and averaged 57.8% on the Tomatometer. This year’s top ten grossed an estimated $98.09 million (the 12th-best September top ten ever) and averaged 64.3% with critics.
Three vastly different films are looking for audience attention next week. The one original title is Brad Pitt’s sci-fi adventure Ad Astra, which looks to become the highest-grossing film of director James Gray’s career. But will it be enough to cover the more than $80 million budget of the film originally supposed to open in May? Then John Rambo is back in Rambo: Last Blood, as the character returns to the home from the end of Rambo (the fourth entry in Sylvester Stallone’s franchise.) This one is not being screened for critics so look for its Tomatometer score later than usual. Then there is the big-screen continuation of Downton Abbey. Will Focus be able to score its own hit from its legion of fans or will we see just how limited its die-hard base really is? The studio is releasing the film in more than 3,000 theaters.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]