Hustlers rustled up a stellar $33.2 million from 3,250 theaters at the U.S. box office, the best start ever for STXfilms and the best live-action opening of Jennifer Lopez’s career, according to early returns.
It also topped the $26.5 million domestic debut of 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians to mark Constance Wu’s best opening.
The R-rated, female-led ensemble pic placed a strong second behind New Line and Warner Bros.’ holdover It: Chapter Two, which earned $40.7 million in its sophomore outing for a domestic total of $153.8 million. The follow-up declined 55 percent, a great hold for a horror pic (in 2017, It fared even better, falling just 51 percent in its second weekend).
Overseas, It: Chapter Two also came in at No. 1, earning another $47 million from 78 markets for a foreign tally of $169.5 million and $323.3 million globally. Between the sequel and the first It, the franchise now boasts more than $1 billion in global ticket sales.
Hustlers — buoyed by a diverse audience and coming in ahead of a projected $25 million debut — is based on real-life events chronicled in a 2015 New York magazine story and stars Wu and Lopez as strippers that lead a band of dancers in a plot to drug and steal from their Wall Street clientele in Great Recession-era New York City.
Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo and Cardi B also star in the movie from writer-director Lorene Scafaria, which earned rave reviews out of its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival. Hustlers cost a reported $20 million to make before marketing and is a much-needed win for STX (the indie studio’s previous biggest debut was 2016’s Bad Moms with $23.8 million, not adjusted for inflation).
Females made up 67 percent of Hustlers‘ audience, while Caucasians represented 36 percent of ticket buyers, followed by African-Americans (26 percent), Hispanics (27 percent) and Asians/Other (11 percent).
Also taking flight at the weekend box office was Warners’ The Goldfinch, which bombed after getting skewered by critics. The coming-of-age tale, which bowed at No. 8, earned a measly $2.6 million weekend from 2,542 theaters — the sixth-worst start of all time for a film launching in 2,500 to 3,000 locations. Among those who did show up, 61 percent of ticket buyers were female.
Filmmaker John Crowley’s adaptation of the sprawling, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Donna Tartt stars Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman and Sarah Paulson. The Goldfinch — which made its world premiere at TIFF — tells the tale of a 13-year-old boy who survives a terrorist bombing at an art museum and whose inspiration becomes a painting he finds amid the destruction.
Outside of It: Chapter 2 and Annabelle Comes Home, Warners has had a tough time at the box office in recent months. In addition to The Goldfinch — which cost a reported $45 million to produce — other misses include Blinded by the Light and The Kitchen. Amazon Studios co-financed The Goldfinch in exchange for global SVOD rights.
In a surprise twist, The Goldfinch received a better CinemaScore than Hustlers (B versus B-). Conversely, Hustlers boasts an 87 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to 24 percent for The Goldfinch.
Other headlines of the weekend included Focus Features’ Downton Abbey, which opened overseas a weekend ahead of its domestic launch, grossing $11.7 million from its first 17 markets. The U.K. led with $6.3 million for a first-place finish; Australia followed with $2.2 million.
Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood reached $329.4 million at the global box office to become the filmmaker’s No. 2 film of all time after passing 2009’s Inglourious Basterds ($324.3 million), not adjusted for inflation. Django Unchained (2012) ranks No. 1 among Tarantino pics with $425 million globally.
At the U.S. specialty box office, Roadside Attractions and Armory Films’ The Peanut Butter Falcon continues to impress, crossing $15 million to become the No. 2 platform release of the year behind The Farewell, which has earned $17 million to date.
Weekend Box Office 09/15/19
|1. IT: Chapter Two||$40.8M||$153.8M||4,570||2|
|3. Angel Has Fallen||$4.4M||$60.4M||3,076||4|
|4. Good Boys||$4.3M||$73.3M||2,736||5|
|5. The Lion King||$3.6M||$534M||2,365||9|
|6. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw||$2.8M||$168.3M||2,050||7|
|8. The Goldfinch||$2.6M||$2.6M||2,542||1|
|9. The Peanut Butter Falcon||$2M||$15M||1,490||6|
|10. Dora and The Lost City of Gold||$1.9M||$56.7M||1,348||6|
Sept. 13, 12:45 a.m. Updated with revised weekend projections.
Sept. 14, 7:15 a.m. Updated with revised weekend projections.
Sept. 15, 7:15 a.m. Updated with weekend estimates.