The box office heat surrounding STXfilms’ Jennifer Lopez stripper crime pic Hustlers is real, and has been so since it hit tracking on August 22, with projections spotting that this could be the actress’ biggest live action opening with $25M-$30M since her 2005 comedy Monster-in-Law ($23.1M).
That opening record would also double as the best for Burbank, CA-based STXfilms, ahead of their previous Bad Moms ($23.7M). It’s a much needed win for the mini-major studio which has been financially re-calibrating itself, seeking a reported half billion in fresh capital. STX back in January celebrated its first No. 1 weekend win with Lantern’s The Upside, which debuted to $20.3M. Overall, it made $108.2M domestic and $122.7M worldwide. Last October, they took Hustlers in turnaround from Annapurna.
The high-concept story based on Jessica Pressler’s New York Magazine article “The Hustlers at Scores” about the strippers who turned the tables on their greedy male clients during the millennial recession has ignited women, multi-cultural audiences, and the LBGTQ community since its trailer dropped on July 16. If there was a monkey wrench to be thrown into Hustlers’ momentum, it would have been at TIFF where the Lorene Scafaria-directed film made its world premiere. The festival can be a do-or-die platform for movies and their future commercial prospects. However, critics embraced Hustlers as a tale of female empowerment, a commentary on women in the workplace sending its current Rotten Tomatoes score to 95% off 42 reviews. On top of that, they’re already calling Lopez an Oscar contender, saying that Hustlers is her best work since Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight. The anticipation from B.O. analysts is that goodwill from critics will propel Hustlers to overindex. In addition to a strong digital campaign executed by STX which is hitting all the pic’s targeted demos, Lopez, and pic’s stars Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart and Cardi B are pushing the pic to their combined near 277M followers on social media.
Even if Hustlers debuts in the $20M-$25M range, that’s still respectable for this production which was made for $20.7M net. Hustlers kicks off on Thursday at 7PM before going wide at 3,250 theaters on Friday.
Despite Hustlers pop for adult counter-programming this weekend, New Line’s It Chapter Two is expected to decline 60% with around $36M for a No. 1 notch. The Andy Muschietti-directed movie through yesterday passed the century mark with $104.6M, after a $8.1M Tuesday, +48% over Monday. The sequel is currently pacing 27% behind It in its first five days; that pic finaled at $327.4M.
Warner Bros. this weekend has one of its four 4th quarter dramas (the others being Motherless Brooklyn, Just Mercy and The Good Liar), The Goldfinch, based on Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel about a 13-year old who survives a terrorist bombing at an art museum where his mother dies. While staggering through the debris, he takes with him a small Dutch Golden Age painting called The Goldfinch, which becomes a singular source of hope for him as he descends into a world of crime. The John Crowley-directed $45M production which stars Nicole Kidman, Ansel Elgort, Sarah Paulson, Jeffrey Wright among others runs at 2 1/2 hours and didn’t have a very good TIFF with critics slamming it with a 29% Rotten Tomatoes score, which isn’t very good for an older adult skewing movie in which film reviews are the lifeblood. Booked at roughly 2,500 theaters, Goldfinch is eyeing a gross in the mid single digits.