Box Office: ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ Sizzles With $19 Million Debut

In the end, there was no need to worry, darling. Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling,” a 1950s-set psychological thriller with off-screen drama that rivaled any antics in the actual movie, scored at the box office in its opening weekend, collecting a leading $19.2 million from 4,113 North American theaters.

At the international box office, the film added another $10.8 million for a global tally of $30 million.

Those ticket sales indicate that behind-the-scenes scandals didn’t ding interest in the film, which co-stars Florence Pugh and Harry Styles as newlyweds who live in a curiously idyllic town. All the talk about Spitgate, awkward press conferences and a seemingly endless stream of tabloid fodder may have even boosted awareness. (Well, that, and the overwhelming desire to watch the world-famous pop star in his first major film role.) Whatever the reason that brought audiences to theaters, it’s an impressive debut for the $35 million-budgeted “Don’t Worry Darling.”

“While no studio wants to have external forces impacting the marketing message of their movies, in this case, the drama swirling around ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ only served to amp up the must-see factor for the film,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior Comscore analyst.

The R-rated movie, backed by Warner Bros., landed a mediocre “B-” CinemaScore from moviegoers, suggesting that word-of-mouth could be a problem beyond its opening weekend. Reviews for “Don’t Worry Darling” weren’t too enthusiastic either (it has a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes), but that didn’t matter to fans of Styles, who turned out in force over the weekend. Surprising no one, 66% of ticket buyers were female, while nearly 70% were between the ages of 18 to 34. Audience members under the age of 18, which accounted for 16% of crowds, were especially positive, giving the film an “A-” CinemaScore.

Already, the box office results for “Don’t Worry Darling” appear to be front-loaded. Friday’s grosses (which were inclusive of Thursday previews and a special Imax screening on Monday) accounted for $9.5 million, a good portion of initial weekend sales. Based on opening day, box office experts believed “Don’t Worry Darling” would earn $21 million or $22 million by Sunday. But the movie withstood a bigger-than-expected drop on Saturday ($5.8 million) and Sunday ($3.8 million), causing Warner Bros. to revise projections down to $19 million.

“We’re enormously proud of this film and are pleased with these results given our modest production budget,” the studio said on Sunday in a note to press.

Another bright spot on domestic box office charts: Disney’s re-release of “Avatar” racked up $10 million from just 1,860 locations, most of them Imax venues. It’s a sizable result for a movie that opened 13 years ago, even if that movie happens to be the highest-grossing global release in history.

Overseas, “Avatar” drummed up a huge $20.5 million from 50 international territories over the weekend, bringing the re-release’s worldwide weekend total to $30.5 million.

Given the remastered version of “Avatar” returned to theaters on a random weekend in September (and without the degree of promotion that’s typically dedicated to new releases), box office watchers are encouraged for “Avatar: The Way of Water,” director James Cameron’s decade-in-the-making, mega-budgeted sequel that’s due in theaters in December.

“This test run is trying to take the temperature of the marketplace for ‘The Way of Water,’” Dergarbedian said. “It shows there’s heat.”

“Avatar” placed third on box office charts behind Sony’s “The Woman King,” a historical action epic starring Viola Davis. The film generated a mighty $11.14 million from 3,765 cinemas in its sophomore outing, declining only 40% from its opening weekend. To date, “The Woman King” has grossed $36.2 million domestically and $1.3 million internationally.

In fourth place, the Airbnb slasher “Barbarian,” from Disney and 20th Century Studios, added $4.8 million in its third outing. The film, lauded for its loony twists and turns, has been holding exceptionally well for a low-budget horror release; ticket sales fell only 26% from last weekend. “Barbarian” has generated $28.4 million so far.

Two films — Searchlight’s “See How They Run” and A24’s “Pearl” — tied for fifth place, based on Sunday’s estimates of $1.9 million for each film. “See How They Run,” which is playing in 2,502 theaters, has earned $6.1 million after two weeks of release. “Pearl,” which is screening in 2,982 venues, has amassed $6.65 million after two weeks of release. Monday’s results will determine the official order on domestic charts.

At No. 7, “Bullet Train” stayed strong, earning $1.8 million from 1,907 cinemas in its eighth weekend of release and bringing domestic ticket sales to $99.2 million. Overseas, the Sony Pictures film has earned $131.1 million to date, boosting its global tally to $230 million.

Elsewhere, director Brett Morgen’s kaleidoscopic David Bowie film “Moonage Daydream” brought in $922,000 by expanding to 733 screens. Those returns translate to a decent $1,258 per location and bring overall ticket sales to $2.6 million, a pretty good result for a documentary in today’s moviegoing environment.

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