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Mid-September is not normally prime box office, but this weekend provided some encouragement as we move into a fall that will determine whether the market will reverse the trend that has domestic results 6% below last year.
“Hustlers” planted the flag for the cause of comedies, original projects, and women front and center with a stronger-than-anticipated $33 million. That was good enough for second place, behind “It: Chapter Two,” which managed to keep its second-weekend drop to reasonable levels and a total just under $41 million that maintained the #1 slot. A particularly strong group of small-drop holdovers also added to decent results.
Goldfinch - Failure - Warner - Bros - Impact
And then there was the absolutely dreadful #8 with “The Goldfinch,” which grossed $2.64 million. Its failure, which Warner Bros. can sustain, will have more long-term impact than most similar high-end duds.
What emerged was a weekend total that should end up over $110 million, enough to slightly surpass the same date last year. That’s encouraging, with upcoming weeks providing what appears to be an above-average appeal slate of films, likely led by “Joker” on October 4 and the return of franchise-driven Disney with “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” on October 18. And “Hustlers” suggests is that originals still have appeal, in certain cases. What will ultimately make or break efforts to surge for the remainder of 2019 is improved performances by standalone titles.
If movies in theaters can survive as anything other than major-spectacle events for familiar properties, then successes like “Hustlers” are vital. It’s the best opener for STX (about $9 million better than “Bad Moms”), the best by a tiny margin for a Jennifer Lopez-starring film (edging out adjusted numbers for “Monster in Law” and “Anaconda”). It’s the best opening for a female-directed film in 2.5 years (since “Wonder Woman.”) Lorene Scafaria, who also wrote this, will step into...
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