Warner Bros.’ high-profile film Don’t Worry Darling started off its domestic box office run with a solid $3.1 million in Thursday previews and special Imax screenings on Monday. It’s difficult to know how front-loaded the film will be.
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.
Tracking and Warner Bros. are projecting a $17 million opening weekend. But based on advance ticket sales, exhibitors are saying the weekend gross could fall between $20 million and $24 million (some think even higher). The movie cost a relatively modest $35 million to make.
Analysts believe the movie’s biggest asset in terms of its box office performance are 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.
Hollywood insiders aren’t convinced that the general moviegoing public cares about the offscreen drama. If anything, the publicity increases awareness.
Of more concern are tepid reviews. Don’t Worry Darling 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.
Don’t Worry Darling goes against the second weekend of The Woman King and the re-release of Avatar, the top-earning film of all time.
Director James Cameron and his producing partner Jon Landau are in the midst of prepping for the December release sequel of Avatar: The Way of Water and 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.
Avatar didn’t hold Thursday night preview screenings.