By Frank Pallotta, CNN Business
It looks like “Don’t Worry Darling” didn’t have that much to worry about.
The psychological thriller opened to $19.2 million in North America last weekend. Although that’s not a spectacular, record-breaking debut, it’s roughly in line with what industry experts were expecting and a solid start for an original film that came with a modest budget of reportedly $35 million. The film has notched $30 million worldwide so far. (Warner Bros., like CNN, is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery.)
The solid box office was propelled by female viewers, who accounted for 66% of the film’s opening weekend totals, according to the studio. Warner Bros. added that audience members under the age of 18 represented 16% of ticket sales this weekend. One of the film’s leads is pop star Harry Styles, who has a big following among those demographics, so, in short, young people and women really like Harry Styles.
All in all, Warner Bros. and the creators of “Don’t Worry Darling,” including director Olivia Wilde, should be pleased — especially considering all the attention, for better or worse, the film received.
The movie generated a lot of anticipation thanks to its A-list cast and it being Wilde’s second directing effort after 2019’s “Booksmart.” But then rumors about firings and behind the scenes tension between the director and Pugh gained traction. A Variety cover story took the buzz even further into the stratosphere.
If that wasn’t enough, the internet went deeply cuckoo trying to figure out if Styles spat on co-star Chris Pine’s lap during the film’s premiere at the Venice Film Festival. A representative for Pine told Variety that the rumor was “a complete fabrication.”
All of this led to questions if the controversies would hurt or boost the film’s box office totals. Ultimately, “Don’t Worry Darling” did what it was supposed to do, at least in terms of selling tickets.
Now, those in Hollywood are wondering if “Don’t Worry Darling” will keep box office momentum going into its second weekend. That may be an uphill battle given the overall negative reviews.
The film got a lackluster “B-” CinemaScore from audiences and a 38% score from critics on review site Rotten Tomatoes.
CNN media critic Brian Lowry wrote that the film itself “isn’t as good” as all the juicy drama.
“The waves of off-screen drama and gossip surrounding ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ has put director Olivia Wilde’s second movie in an awkward spot, unable to justify the hype (it’s at best OK) but probably well advised to cash in on it,” Lowry wrote.
“Florence Pugh makes the strongest case for seeing the film, but given how in-demand she is, if you miss this one, don’t worry.”
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