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‘Don’t Worry Darling’ Debuts at #1 as Drama Train Pulls Into Station

Olivia Wilde’s film grossed $19.2 million while “Avatar” returned with $10 million.

"Don't Worry Darling"

“Don’t Worry Darling”

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture

“Don’t Worry Darling” (Warner Bros. Discovery) performed slightly better than studio and tracking projections to take #1 this weekend with about the same gross as “The Woman King” (Sony) last weekend.

The performance of Gina Prince-Bythewood’s African female warrior film, which cost $15 million more than Olivia Wilde’s much-discussed 1950s “Stepford Wives”-adjacent drama with Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, and Chris Pine, was regarded as strong, in part because of lower expectations.

After the barrage of publicity surrounding its Venice showing, “Darling” became a box-office cause celebre with consensus of an opening weekend of $20 million or higher. However, it faced an above-average drop from its combined preview and Friday results. These were further exaggerated by additional Monday IMAX fan screenings.

Nanisca (Viola Davis) in TriStar Pictures' THE WOMAN KING.

“The Woman King”

Ilze Kitshoff

Even with its declining trajectory, “Darling” saw  heavy support from younger females much as “The Woman King” received from older (particularly Black) women. Both films are mid-budget original dramas, an arena always viewed as a risk.

Out of WBD’s five theatrical releases this year, this is WBD’s fifth #1 film.  Three are franchise based, two are original (“Darling” and “Elvis”). DC Comic and other franchise-related films must thrive at WBD but, as it regroups under new management with the declaration of more theatrical releases, success for original films like “Darling” are critical. WBD might hope that future successes come with considerably less agitas.

Avatar” (Disney) was the second “new” release this week, with nearly all dates in 3D as advance reminder that its sequel arrives in three months. Very few people can see the original in its intended format at home, which makes the reintroduction especially helpful.

It grossed $10 million, good enough for #3 this weekend. This raises its adjusted gross to $900 million and puts it at #12 all time, now ahead of “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Ben Hur.” It is the biggest number for this century, though it remains far short of its director’s “Titanic” at over $1.2 billion. Of note — worldwide it took in $30 million, the same as “Don’t Look Darling.”

“Woman King” had a decent hold to take second place, off 42 percent with $11,145,000 and $36.3 million so far. The other seven holdovers in the top 10 dropped less (not unusual, since #1 films in their second weekend often drop 50 percent or more). The #5 title “Pearl” (A24) and #6 “See How They Run” (Searchlight), last week’s other two openings with much lower initial grosses, both fell just under 40 percent.

A24’s lower-budget genre films tend to hold better on average than similar releases, and good word of mouth for “Pearl” (and endorsement from Martin Scorsese) added to interest. Continuing to impress is “Barbarian” (Disney), which is #4 in its third weekend and down only 24 percent.

There’s multiple cases for positivity on individual films, yet the aggregate remains problematic. Total grosses improved this weekend to $60 million, from $51 million last. That was only 48 percent of the same 2019 weekend, with comparison to the four-week rolling number from three years ago stuck at 45 percent.

"Moonage Daydream," David Bowie

“Moonage Daydream”

Neon

Neon expanded “Moonage Daydream” from its IMAX-only dates last weekend, adding $922,000 with 563 added theaters but dropping 25 percent overall. The David Bowie documentary is at $2.6 million, more than double what the next best non-fiction film has grossed this year.

Specialized films start reasserting themselves, particularly as traditional platform releases, in October. Until then, few estimates are reported.

 

The Top 10

1. Don’t Worry Darling (WBD) NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic:; Est. budget: $35 million

$19,200,000 in 4,113 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $4,668; Cumulative: $19,200,000

2. The Woman King (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$11,145,000 (-42%) in 3,765 (no change) theaters; PTA: $2,960; Cumulative: $36,299,000

3. Avatar (Disney) REISSUE

$10,000,000 in 1,860 theaters; PTA: $5,376; Cumulative: $(adjusted)  $900,220,000

4. Barbarian (Disney) Week 3; Last weekend #2

$4,800,000 (-26%) in 2,890 theaters (+450); PTA: $1,661; Cumulative: $28,430,000

5. Pearl (A24) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$1,919,000 (-39%) in 2,982 theaters (+47); PTA: $643; Cumulative: $6,651,000

6. See How They Run (Searchlight) Week 2; Last weekend #4

$1,900,000 (-37%) in 2,404 (no change) theaters; PTA: $759; Cumulative: $6,105,000

7. Bullet Train (Sony) Week 8; Last weekend #5

$1,815,000 (-29%) in 1,907 (-695) theaters; PTA: $952; Cumulative: $99,248,000

8. DC League of Super-Pets (WBD) Week 9; Last weekend #7; also on PVOD

$1,765,000 (-19%) in 2,351 (-405)  theaters; PTA: $751; Cumulative: $90,042,000

9. Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount) Week 18; Last weekend #6; also on PVOD

$1,560,000 (-25%) in 2,025 (-579) theaters; PTA: $1,258; Cumulative: $2,601,000

10. Minions: The Rise of Gru (Universal) Week 13; Last weekend #9; also on PVOD and streaming on Peacock

$1,040,000 (-25%) in 1,642 (-328) theaters; PTA: $633; Cumulative: $365,547,000

 

 

Additional specialized/limited/independent releases

 

Railway Children (Bluefox) NEW – Metacritic: 54

$265,838 in 923 theaters; PTA: $288

Cuando Sea Joven (Pantelion) NEW

$270,000 in 315 theaters; PTA: $857

On the Come Up (Paramount) NEW –  Festivals include: Toronto 2022; also on PVOD and Paramount +

$150,000 in 603 theaters; PTA: $249

Buried: The 1982 Alpine Meadows Avalanche (Greenwich) NEW – Festivals include: Austin 2021

$18,358 in 8 theaters; PTA: $2,295

Moonage Daydream (Neon) Week 2

$922,000 in 733 (+563) theaters; PTA: $1,258; Cumulative: $2,601,000

Confess, Fletch (Paramount) Week 2; also on PVOD

$84,235 in 242 (-274) theaters; PTA: $348; Cumulative: $498,000

The Silent Twins (Focus) Week 2

$32,000 in 279 (no change) theaters ; PTA: $115; Cumulative: $185,655

Running the Bases (UPU2) Week 2

$235,000 in 697 (-383) theaters; PTA: $337; Cumulative: $1,039,000

 Brahmastra Part 1: Shiva (Disney) Week 3

$400,000 in 460 (-350) theaters; Cumulative: $7,500,000

Gigi & Nate (Roadside Attractions) – Week 3

$28,360 in 135 (-158) theaters; Cumulative: $2,243,000

Bodies Bodies Bodies (A24) Week 8

$18,254 in 172 (-189) theaters; Cumulative: $11,413,000

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (A24) Week 13; also on PVOD

$15,552 in 25 (-91) theaters; Cumulative: $6,307,000

Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) Week 26; also on PVOD

$9,057 in 28 (-15) theaters; Cumulative: $69,993,000

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