Weekend Box Office: Jennifer Lopez Nearly Out-Hustles Pennywise, While ‘The Goldfinch’ Falters

After a few misfires for female-led crime films, The Kitchen ($12 million) and Widows ($42 million), Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart and Julie Stiles illustrated over the weekend that the right cast and the right movie can make a lot of noise at the box office even for a film with a relatively modest budget. Based on the true story of a group of strippers who drugged and robbed Wall Street types, STX Films’ Hustlers kicked up an impressive $33.2 million weekend opening on only a $20 million budget, making it the biggest live-action opening ever for both Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu. It was also a huge win for films with mid-sized budgets.

The film benefited greatly from strong reviews (88 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), building on great buzz out of the Toronto Film Festival, and a performance from Jennifer Lopez that is getting Oscar attention to amass that impressive $33 million gross, the highest opening ever for STX Films, besting the $23 million of Bad Moms and the $20 million of The Upside. Both of those films went on to score over $100 million domestic, and Hustlers has a very good chance to do so, as well, based on positive buzz from the critical community and strong audience support for the movie (the flick received a solid 74 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes). It’s also a big win for the phenomenal director Lorene Scafaria, whose 2012 Steve Carell film Seeking a Friend for the End of the World was criminally overlooked.

Even after besting expectations and scoring $33.2 million, Hustlers still couldn’t quite take down Pennywise, as IT Chapter 2 maintained the top spot at the box office, earning another $40 million over its second weekend. Neither mediocre reviews nor a nearly three-hour runtime have slowed Chapter 2 down much, as it fell around 55 percent but has earned $153 million already, although it still has a long way to go if it expects to match the $327 million from the first film. In either respect, the franchise has now earned around $1 billion for its two films on around a $105 million combined budget. Not bad.

Holdovers took spots three through seven, although beyond Hustlers, nothing scored more than $5 million this weekend. Gerard Butler’s Angel Has Fallen maintained the three spot despite only earning $4.4 million, although it’s now up to $60.3 million domestic, which is just more reason to put some respect in Gerard Butler’s name. Good Boys earned $4.1 million and $73 million overall, an impressive take for a movie that only cost $20 million to produce. Lion King refuses to go away, hanging on to the number five spot by earning $3.6 million to bring its domestic total to $534 million (it has earned over $1.6 billion worldwide). With $2.68 million, Overcomer has brought in $28 million at the box office, while Hobbs & Shaw has now earned $168 million domestic after a $2.64 million seventh weekend.

Unfortunately for Warner Brothers, its adaptation of the Donna Tartt novel, The Goldfinch, completely whiffed at the box office. It is the kind of movie that needs good reviews to succeed, but most critics are calling it a disaster (24 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), which led to its poor $2.62 million opening. Given the $45 million budget, Warner Brothers is going to take a large write down on this. (Audiences who saw it, at least, gave it a B+ Cinemsascore.)

Nothing much going on at the bottom of the box office, either. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark earned $1.9 million to bring its total to $64 million, while Peanut Butter Falcon earned $1.8 million. It’s now collected $14.9 million in proceeds.

Hustlers and IT Chapter 2 have a lot of competition coming at them next weekend. Brad Pitt’s critically well-received Ad Astra will take on Downton Abbey and the return of Stallone in Rambo: Last Blood. Ad Astra and Rambo are both expected to come in at around $20 million next weekend, while Downton Abbey scored an impressive $12 million this weekend in the UK.

Source: Deadline, Box Office Mojo