Don’t Worry Darling maybe should a little, America takes flight back to Avatar, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
So, after all the gleefully messy, rabidly bitchy, knives out, drama-baiting, exhausting gossip DISCOURSE over a movie that, at the height of all the shit, had barely been seen by anybody, Don’t Worry Darling came out and was… fine. Mildly disappointing. A mess only on the screenplay and weak Harry Styles performance fronts. A film that will most likely inspire no cult of misunderstood classic which lasts for decades, nor provide endlessly fun memes or baffling miscues to fuel the DISCOURSE over the following month or so before we all move onto our next arbitrarily-designated whipping boy.
Fittingly, the film’s performance at the Box Office is neither a disaster nor a major triumph with some notable redeeming qualities but nothing which’ll live on outside of this three-day discussion window. Olivia Wilde’s sophomore directorial effort is your new Box Office #1 with $19.2 million, almost eclipsing the entirety of Booksmart’s 2019 run in one weekend; overseas, the total climbs to $30 million, just a few hairs away from the $35 million budget. It’s the first time in ages where the Box Office has seen female-directors rule the mountain-top in successive weekends. That said, the result is still a touch disappointing given the initial $9.5 million Friday and steady drops over the rest of the weekend which, coupled with a “B-” Cinemascore, indicate Darling may not be around for the long-haul. So, neither a failure to toast to nor a roaring success to flip the haters off with, just like the movie itself. Everybody please move the fuck on with your lives and find something else to pre-emptively ruin.
Like, for example, the upcoming Avatar sequel I am learning not to bet against purely due to the fact that Disney have, like, five different tie-in games in production. Something with that much money pumped into it is kinda too big to fail. Still, it has been 13 years since Avatar was the biggest thing on the planet and it cannot hurt to hedge your bets a touch before The Way of Water eats up Xmas’ lunch. Disney’s Fox division made the smart move of re-releasing the original back into cinemas during the continuing September lull-ish in hopes of ginning up some additional hype, prioritising them fancy IMAX and 3/4DX formats since a tech demo kinda falls flat if you’re not viewing it with the required tech. The result? A cool $10 million from 1,800 screens, by far the best of this year’s crop of theatrical re-releases, with 27% of viewers hitting up the IMAX and 93% putting the infernal glasses back on for that additional dimension. An irresponsible writer could extrapolate any number of Hot Take predictions about how Way of Water is gonna do from this performance. I’d instead like to bring to attention the fact that people like myself, who only saw the original theatrical cut, may have Mandela Effect-ed ourselves about the hair-sex thing? I could’ve sworn that was in the original cut and got taken out for this re-release. At least I’m not alone in having this important issue dominate my brain all weekend.
My favourite thing about this Full List is that it feels like a Full List. It feels like a real, like, you know, go the Internet, Full, List.
US Box Office Results: Friday 23rd September 2022 – Sunday 25th September 2022
1] Don’t Worry Darling
$19,200,000 / NEW
See, I did a meme from the press tour. Happy now? I can get off the sanctimony every now and again. Anyways, like I said, this was FINE. I wish it were deeper and/or, if the screenplay really wanted to go for the simplest and most obvious possible version of this like it does, weirder. But Wilde’s Lynch impressions are effective, Matthew Libatique and John Powell work wonders on the photography and score, and Florence Pugh is phenomenal. Making Styles her main screen partner is like sanctioning a deathmatch between an incontinent pisshead outside a pub and the Doom Slayer.
2] The Woman King
$11,145,276 / $36,299,000
This, on the other hand, absolutely fucking RULED! An old-school, hard-hitting, completely earnest blockbuster made with spectacular confidence, great star and star-making performances, gorgeous visuals, and a willingness to at least wrestle with moral and thematic ambiguity as a means to let its characters be wrong and grow. May the second act of Gina Prince-Bythewood’s directing career never end!
$10,000,000 / $770,507,625
When I last saw Avatar, it was 13 years ago on opening weekend in 3D at my rammed Scunthorpe local. I didn’t care for it. But 13 years is a long-ass time; I’m literally a different person than I was in 2009, at least when the deed-poll forms go through. Maybe things might have changed. So, I went this weekend for my second-ever viewing, though this time not in 3D because I didn’t need the headache… I still didn’t care for it. Sorry, James.
$4,800,000 / $28,430,261
Not catching as many headlines as petty set gossip drama most of us should be above wallowing in is the fact that we’re currently in a steadily-holding Box Office landscape. Not a single film in the Top 12 this weekend has fallen more than 41% from the previous. For example, Barbarian is a low-budget horror which opened somewhat softly and had a negative-leaning Cinemascore. Following on from last week’s 38% sophomore dip, it managed an extremely impressive 26% drop! Legs, people!
$1,918,555 / $6,651,256
And, sure, you can make the counterargument that most of these films opened weak to begin with so their drops aren’t so much “impressive” as “vital for their continued health,” especially when you see Pearl’s per-screen average in its 38.7% drop second weekend ($643). Honestly, fair. But it’s still something noteworthy, I feel. In particular, The Woman King has been posting really solid dailies over the weekend and its 41% drop would have been significantly less had its Friday not strangely underperformed in relation to the bumper Saturday. Not every Box Office story needs to involve eight-figure headline-grabbing booms or busts!
6] See How They Run
$1,900,000 / $6,105,039
Saw this, too. Had fun even if it whiffs the ending. Was reminded yet again that Saoirse Ronan is one of our best working actresses and we’re both the same age, THANKS FOR MAKING ME FEEL LIKE A USELESS SACK OF SHIT, SAOIRSE!
7] Bullet Train
$1,815,046 / $99,248,000
The quintessential action-comedy series has finally gotten itself the 4K Blu-Ray release that it deserves, according to one Charlie Brigden. Yes, The Police Story Trilogy is released today and I will unconditionally love forever anybody who buys me a copy, cheers.
8] DC League of Super-Pets
$1,765,000 / $90,042,000
$1,559,847 / $711,568,000
Gonna be honest, I’m actually kinda invested in seeing this hit the big 20 weeks mark, now. We’re so close, just two more to go! But I think it’s gonna fall short unless some miracle flies in real fast, since there are four new Wide release movies dropping in that timeframe. Call it a sort of sunk-cost kinda deal, a desire to witness history, or just the comfort in seeing Top Gun stay resolute for almost five complete months as lesser pretenders fell by the wayside. I’m cheering it on, let’s somehow make this happen!
10] Minions: The Rise of Gru
$1,039,770 / $365,547,000
Hope Illumination bother to invest that cash next time less in lining stunt-cast celebrity VAs pockets and more in writing a movie that rates higher than “MID” in quality.
Dropped out: The Invitation, Moonage Daydream
Callie Petch wants a dog.