‘Hustlers’ delivers one of the year’s best non-franchise openings at weekend box office and the top debut from STX Entertainment
While IT: Chapter Two held onto the top spot with a stronger-than-expected hold, the big story this weekend at the box office was at #2, where crime dramedy Hustlers, distributed by STX Films, debuted above expectations and well above what anyone could have expected even a month ago. Thanks to the over-performance of these two films and strong holds for almost all of the holdovers, the top 12 this weekend ($101.4 million) managed a 4% increase over last year’s top 12 ($97.4 million), even with one of the year’s biggest bombs coming in under even the worst expectations.
IT: Chapter Two fell 55.3% from its opening weekend for a $40.7 million three-day gross. While that is a steeper drop than the first film’s -51.3% second weekend drop, it is significantly above The Nun‘s 66% drop from last year and above average for horror sequels. The weekend performance is also a rebound from an underwhelming run during the weekdays, indicating that the film’s long runtime might be pushing more business to the weekend. It‘s 10-day total stands at $153.8 million, down 30% from the first films’ $218.8 million 10-day total. The film does seem to be losing ground to the first film, I would revise my final total estimate down a bit to $225 million.
In second place was Hustlers with an outstanding $33.2 million. That is the biggest opening weekend in STX’s history (beating Bad Moms‘ $23.8 million), and perhaps more impressively, it is the third biggest opening of the year for a non-franchise film, behind only Us and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. For most of this year audiences have played it safe by rushing out for sequels, remakes, and new entries into pre-established cinematic universes. The massive debut of Hustlers is a good reminder of how powerful an effective marketing campaign and a quality product can be. From the release of its eye-grabbing trailer in mid-July to its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last weekend that launched Jennifer Lopez’s Oscar campaign, everything has gone right for this $20 million film, which should easily turn a much-needed profit for STX.
The only thing of concern for the film as of now is its B- Cinemascore. The grade actually isn’t far off from the B Cinemascores received by fellow non-franchise breakouts Us and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, two films with wildly different legs: Us fell off rather quickly and finished with a 2.46 multiplier, while Hollywood has trucked along to a 3.33 multiplier as of this weekend. Without the summer weekdays that Hollywood had early in its run, I see Hustlers falling short of a 3 multiplier and finishing with a $90 million total, which would still be the third highest gross of all time for STX, and the second biggest live-action film of Lopez’s career, behind only 2002’s Maid in Manhattan.
With Hustlers being the only new release to make a dent, most of the holdovers experienced the best non-holiday holds of their runs. Angel Has Fallen made $4.4 million in third place, bringing its total to $60.4 million and keeping it on track to out-gross the domestic total of its predecessor, London Has Fallen. Good Boys and The Lion King rounded out the top 5 with $4.3 million and $3.6 million weekend grosses respectively.
The weekend’s other big release, The Goldfinch, opened in eighth place to $2.6 million, the sixth worst opening of all time for a film in over 2,500 theaters. If everything went right for Hustlers this weekend, The Goldfinch had an almost polar-opposite string of bad circumstances, from confusing trailers to a TIFF debut last weekend that put it among the worst-reviewed films to premiere at the festival. With a debut that poor, the film will probably be shuffled out of theaters about as quickly as possible, sending the film to a $5 million total.
Below The Goldfinch, some other runs of note: The Peanut Butter Falcon had the best hold for a wide release for the second weekend in a row, dropping only -9.8%. The film will probably finish its run north of $20 million, becoming only the fourth film in Roadside Attractions’ history to cross that mark. Brittany Runs a Marathon expanded into wide release with a $1.55 million gross, an adequate expansion that probably doesn’t qualm Amazon’s worries about its release strategy. Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice made $734,636 from 220 theaters, giving Greenwich its second music documentary breakout this year, after Echo in the Canyon earlier this summer.