It’s been a very good weekend for STX and a decidedly mixed one for Warner Bros, as the two studios released their premiere films from the Toronto film festival: “Hustlers” and “The Goldfinch”
For STX, this weekend was a watershed one, as “Hustlers” became their best opening weekend ever with $34 million from 3,250 screens, easily breaking the previous record of $23 million set by 2016’s “Bad Moms.” The Lorene Scafaria crime film is also the best live-action opening for its star Jennifer Lopez, beating the $23 million opening of the 2005 film “Monster-in-Law” even after inflation adjustment.
“Hustlers” got to this point thanks to a mix of strong reviews from its Toronto premiere — it has an 87% Rotten Tomatoes score — and social media marketing by the film’s stars, including Cardi B and Lizzo, who have minor roles. While audience reception wasn’t quite as strong with a B- on CinemaScore and a 3.5/5 on Postrak, “Hustlers” still has an opportunity to leg out into October as a unique offering at the cinema, while the macho “Rambo: Last Blood” and the vicious “Joker” headline the upcoming release slate.
And if “Hustlers” can earn a domestic run of over $100 million, STX will have two $100 million-plus grossers in a calendar year for the first time ever, having reached that mark at the start of the year with the Bryan Cranston/Kevin Hart film “The Upside,” which earned $108.2 million.
As for Warner Bros., there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that New Line’s “It: Chapter Two” is still No. 1 this weekend with a solid $40.7 million second weekend. While the horror sequel is 30% behind the pace of the first “It,” neither WB nor box office analysts were expecting this film to match the success of that record-breaking film. “Chapter Two” has a 10-day total of $153 million and a worldwide tally of $323.3 million. A domestic run of over $200 million and a global run of over $500 million against a $70 million budget would be a big success for the studio.
On the other hand, WB’s awards hopeful “The Goldfinch” has collapsed at the box office after receiving poor reviews in Toronto. Expectations were already low for this $45 million film with a 26% Rotten Tomatoes score. Analysts had projected a $8-11 million opening this weekend. Instead, it will make just $2.6 million from 2,542 screens.
The financial hit on WB will be lessened, however, because of its co-financing deal with Amazon Studios, who holds global streaming rights on “The Goldfinch.” But it’s still another tough loss for WB in a third quarter that already saw “The Kitchen” and “Blinded by the Light” tank at the box office. Interestingly, WB is leaning back on intense, violent R-rated fare on its 2019 slate. Along with “It: Chapter Two,” the studio found success with “Annabelle Comes Home,” and next month will see the release of “Joker,” a film that could not only set a new October opening record but also become the awards contender that WB had hoped “The Goldfinch” would be.
What makes the bombing of “The Goldfinch” even worse is that it failed to land in the Top 5 of this weekend’s charts, even though no other film aside from “It: Chapter Two” and “Hustlers” grossed more than $5 million this weekend. Taking the No. 3 spot instead of “Goldfinch” is Lionsgate/Millennium’s “Angel Has Fallen” with $4.2 million in its fourth weekend for a total of $60 million. Universal’s “Good Boys” is just behind it with $4.2 million and a $73 million total after five weekends, and “The Lion King” completes the Top 5 with $3.6 million and a $534 million domestic total after 10 weekends.
Next weekend should clear the lingering summer holdovers from the Top 5, as a trio of wide releases hit the big screen. Along with Sylvester Stallone’s swan song action film “Rambo: Last Blood,” fans of “Downton Abbey” will flock to theaters for the film adaptation of the hit British TV series, while Disney will release the delayed Fox sci-fi film “Ad Astra” after it received good reviews in Toronto.