Finally! A legitimate box office surprise! Or if not a surprise, at least an unexpected player has entered the fray for 2019. It's long overdue, frankly.
Friday Box Office Analysis
By Kim Hollis
September 14, 2019
The top movie at the box office yesterday was not IT: Chapter Two. No, it was instead the Jennifer Lopez-led Hustlers, a movie that many are saying is her best performance ever and has brought about discussions of a potential Oscar nomination for the actress.
Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria (previously known for the delightful Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and the even more delightful Seeking a Friend for the End of the World), this film had a lot going for it. Positive reviews? Check. It currently sits at 87 percent fresh at Rotten Tomatoes and emerged with great buzz from the Toronto International Film Festival. Superb casting? Also check. Along with Lopez, the film features Constance Wu of Crazy Rich Asians fame, Lizzo, and Cardi B. The only strikes against it seem to be its distributor (STX Entertainment, not known for great marketing or big films) and less enthusiastic word-of-mouth from the general public than what the critics delivered (B- Cinemascore). Also in its favor is the fact that women like movies, too, and a female-centric feature draws unexpected dividends.
So, it's pretty exciting to see that Hustlers earned $13.1 million on its opening day of box office, beating IT 2 by a few hundred thousand. It's going to pass its own production budget sometime today as well as become STX's biggest opener ever. They have had a couple of hits with Bad Moms (and its sequel) plus The Upside, but Hustlers is both a prestige picture and an earner. This is a big step forward for the distributor, who also has the Chadwick Boseman headlliner 21 Bridges coming later this year, produced by Boseman and the Russo brothers (you know, the guys who directed the biggest movie of all-time). It could earn $35 million this weekend, which is pretty darned great and gives us hope as we head toward the fourth quarter of 2019.
That leaves Pennywise the clown floating in a sewer down in second place, as IT: Chapter Two earned $12.8 million, down 65 percent from last Friday. That's a hefty decline, particularly considering that it started with around $30 million less than the first film did. This one suffers from lower review scores plus an exceedingly long run time at just under three hours. It should probably just barely win the weekend with $36 million, but the final result is definitely still in question.
The only other new debut this weekend was The Goldfinch, a movie based on a book by Donna Tartt that I hate hate hated. It looks like all of the problems I had with the book transferred straight over to the movie version, as it currently sits at just 24 percent fresh at Rotten Tomatoes and earned only $870,000 yesterday. It will manage $2.5 million or so for the weekend before fading to obscurity. James Verniere of the Boston Herald calls it "a bloated, derivative, self-important bore." Having only read the source material, that was my expectation. I think The Goldfinch was the book that convinced me that it was okay to abandon books when I hate them, even if I did manage to read that one to the bitter end.