After weeks of controversy surrounding its director and stars, DON’T WORRY DARLING opened with $19.2M to take first place on the box office charts. Ticket sales for Thursday night’s preview screenings started strong with $3.1M, followed by a solid $6.5M on Friday. This was the highest opening day gross since BULLET TRAIN earned $12.8M on its August 5th debut. The psychological thriller from Warner Bros. was directed by Olivia Wilde, who also stars in the film with Florence Pugh and Harry Styles. Unfortunately, the film has not been well-received by critics, who delivered a very disappointing 38% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The public was more positive, giving it a relatively strong 83% audience score.
DARLING’s Saturday results dropped 39% from Friday, which is an ominous sign for the long-range prospects for any film. Several weeks ago, Warner Bros. announced that they had only two more theatrical releases to market in 2022, DON’T WORRY DARLING and BLACK ADAM. With a production budget of $35M, DON’T WORRY DARLING will need to survive in its second weekend with no more than a 50% drop in ticket sales in order to achieve overall profitability. The steep drop in its opening weekend Friday to Saturday ticket sales coupled with poor critical reviews seem to point to a struggle ahead.
Last week’s first-place winner THE WOMAN KING took second place with $11.1M, a decline of only 42%. After a 10-day gross of $36.3M and stellar ratings – 94% from critics and 99% from audiences – THE WOMAN KING is on track to earn $60M in its North American theatrical run.
20th Century Studios’ re-release of James Cameron’s 2009 fantasy classic AVATAR took third with $10M. The re-release of the original is part of a multi-prong campaign to get audiences ready for the December 16th opening of AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. There has been concern that the 13-year gap between the two releases could dampen interest in the sequel, with some moviegoers having lost touch with why the original James Cameron blockbuster was so appealing.
Another concern is that Cameron’s continued focus on 3D might no longer be a draw since the 3D format has fallen out of favor with mass audiences over the past decade. Grosses for the AVATAR re-release this weekend leave both of these key questions unanswered while we wait for the main event to arrive in mid-December.
Last week’s indie standout MOONAGE DAYDREAM struggled in its week two expansion. The David Bowie music documentary from Neon failed to top $1M this weekend at 733 locations, despite earning $1.2M last weekend while playing at only 170 locations. Several theatres where the movie played for both weeks dropped more than 85% in the second week.
This highlights the degree of difficulty smaller pictures have to break through in theatres during this age of streaming. This year’s one shining success for an indie title playing in theatres is A24’s EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, which has a total box office just shy of $70M after an amazing 27-week run in North America.