In the end, all that drama may have helped Don’t Worry Darling. No one needed to have worried, darlings: Olivia Wilde’s second directing feature after her well-received Booksmart topped the box office with $19.2 million.
A psychological thriller set in the 1950s, Don’t Worry Darling premiered out of competition at the recent Venice Film Festival. The film about a seemingly utopian desert community, where all the men work on a mysterious enterprise, stars Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, and Wilde herself.
While the film was praised for Pugh’s performance, cinematography, and production design, among other elements, several controversies almost overshadowed the film and its box office chances.
But Don’t Worry Darling triumphantly overcame all the tabloid talk. All the pre-release controversies may have even helped create awareness and interest in the film written by Katie Silberman, Carey van Dyke, and Shane van Dyke.
Variety quoted Paul Dergarabedian, a veteran box office analyst, as saying, “While no studio wants to have external forces impacting the marketing message of their movies, in this case, the drama swirling around Don’t Worry Darling only served to amp up the must-see factor for the film.”
Viola Davis’ The Woman King, which debuted at number one, slipped to second place with $11.1 million. That sophomore weekend figure was higher than predicted for the universally acclaimed epic inspired by true events in Africa. The Gina Prince-Bythewood-directed historical drama, expected to have legs for a long run, also stars Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim, and John Boyega.
The re-release of James Cameron’s Avatar also proved to be a bright spot in the North American market since the 2009 movie managed to draw a hefty $10 million and place third.
Cameron enhanced the appeal of watching again Avatar, the biggest grossing worldwide release ever (a staggering $2.88 billion), by adding a mid-credits bonus sneak peek of his coming sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water.
The impressive showing of the re-release augurs well for the December opening of The Way of Water which stars Zoe Saldaña, Michelle Yeoh, Kate Winslet, Sam Worthington, and Sigourney Weaver.
The horror-thriller Barbarian, about a woman’s Airbnb booking turning into a nightmare, is holding steady on its third weekend. Directed by Zach Cregger, the Detroit-set film, which debuted at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con, raked in $4.8 million. Ranked fourth, Barbarian is headlined by Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgard, and Justin Long.
Another horror offering, Pearl, Ti West’s origin story of the murderous titular character, took the fifth spot. The backstory movie featuring Mia Goth, David Corenswet, and Emma Jenkins-Purro collected $1.918 million.
Making up the rest of the top ten were, in order, Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell’s See How They Run, $1.9 million; Brad Pitt’s Bullet Train, $1.81 million; DC League of Super-Pets, $1.76 million; Top Gun: Maverick, $1.56 million; and Minions: The Rise of Gru, $1.04 million.
Overseas, Cameron was king of the world again as the Avatar re-release picked up $20.5 million in 50 territories. Paired with its North American grosses, the reissue racked up $30.5 million worldwide. Again, that speaks volumes about the anticipation for The Way of Water.
The remastered Avatar’s offshore revenues came mostly from 3D, IMAX, and other premium formats, in countries led by South Korea, Mexico, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Don’t Worry Darling scooped up $10.8 million in over 60 markets, including the United Kingdom where it led the charts.
With their romantic comedy, Ticket to Paradise, George Clooney, and Julia Roberts already have an international hit on their hands. The Bali-set film, which does not open in the United States and Canada until October 21, drew $11.1 million to increase the overseas total to $31 million.
Meanwhile, the dinosaurs reached a global milestone. Jurassic World Dominion recently hit the $1 billion benchmark, with its combined overseas ($624 million) and domestic ($376 million) earnings. JWD, top-billed by Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Laura Dern, joins Spider-Man: No Way Home and Maverick as the only three movies to cross the $1 billion mark in the pandemic era.
The third and final installment in the Jurassic World trilogy was helped by having a release date in China, where it earned $158 million. That’s why No Way Home and Maverick’s box office feat – without the benefit of being shown in the world’s biggest film market – is even more remarkable.