Warner Bros.’ high-profile drama Don’t Worry Darling opened to an okay $19.2 million domestically from 4,114 theaters to win the weekend. However, the pic fell more than expected on Saturday in a worrisome turn for its longterm playability.
Overseas, Don’t Worry Darling took in a $10.8 million from more than 60 markets for a global start of $30 million. (The movie was always going to be a tough sell in many markets internationally.)
Directed by Olivia Wilde, Don’t Worry Darling was the most-talked-about entry at the Venice Film Festival as it faced a number of controversies, including rumors of acrimony between Wilde and lead actress Florence Pugh. On Friday, Pugh shared a heartfelt message on Instagram praising the cast and crew with photos, including one with Wilde.
Don’t Worry Darling received a mediocre B- CinemaScore from audiences (Wilde’s last film, Booksmart, earned a B+). The B- could ding word-of-mouth. Ditto for tepid reviews. Wilde’s sophomore directing effort presently has a 35 percent critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, dimming its awards chances and making it more difficult to attract older adults who are known for relying on reviews when deciding whether to make a trip to the cinema. (Hollywood insiders aren’t convinced that the general moviegoing public cares about the offscreen drama.)
Tracking and Warner Bros. had projected a $17 million opening weekend. But based on advance ticket sales, exhibitors believed the film would open between $20 million and $24 million (some thought even higher). The good news: Don’t Worry Darling cost a relatively modest $35 million to make.
Analysts believe the movie’s biggest asset in terms of its box office performance is the legions of younger females devoted to Harry Styles, who stars opposite Pugh and Chris Pine in Wilde’s high-concept psychological thriller about a young couple residing in an idyllic, cult-like community.
They appear to be right. Females made up a massive 72 percent of Friday’s audience, while 67 percent of ticket buyers were between the ages of 18 and 34. The movie turned out to be front-loaded. Friday’s official gross of $9.4 million included $3.1 million in Thursday previews and special Imax screenings on Monday. Based on Friday numbers, most analysts put the opening number at $21 million.
Don’t Worry Darling went up against the second weekend of The Woman King and the rerelease of Avatar, the top-earning film of all time.
From Sony and eOne, the female Black-led Woman King placed second with a pleasing $11.1 million from 3,765 theaters, a decline of just 42 percent. The period epic adventure’s 10-day domestic total is $36.3 million after earning an A+ from audiences and glowing reviews.
Overseas, Woman King opened in its first major market, Brazil, where it took in $1 million for an early foreign haul of $1.3 million.
In North American, Avatar — which first opened nearly 13 years ago — grossed an impressive $10 million from 1,860 theaters. Overseas, the rerelease started off with $20.5 million. To this day, the movie is the top-earning film of all time with more than $2.87 billion in ticket sales.
Director James Cameron and his producing partner Jon Landau are in the midst of prepping for the December release of the sequel Avatar: The Way of Water. Returning the original movie to cinemas is just one component of a sprawling marketing campaign that’s being orchestrated by Disney and 20th Century Studios.
In other international action, Universal’s Julia Roberts-George Clooney romantic comedy Ticket to Paradise added $11 million this weekend from 51 markets for an early foreign total of $31 million, 8 percent ahead of recent box office hit The Lost City. The movie lands in the U.S. on Oct. 21.
Sept. 25, 8:25 a.m. Updated with estimated weekend grosses.
Sept. 24, 8:15 a.m. Updated with Friday ticket sales and early weekend projections.
Sept. 23, 6:40 p.m. Updated to include a link to Pugh’s Instagram post promoting the film.