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Box Office Preview: Controversy-Ridden ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ Could Surprise With $20M-Plus Opening

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After weeks of making headlines for one controversy after another, the director Olivia Wilde’s sophomore feature Don’t Worry Darling could surprise in its box office debut this weekend with $20 million-plus.

Official tracking and Warner Bros. are being more conservative in projecting $17 million. But based on advance ticket sales, exhibitors are giving a range of $20 million to $24 million (some think it could score even more).

Analysts believe the movie’s biggest asset in terms of its box office performance are the legions of younger females devoted to Harry Styles, who stars opposite Florence Pugh and Chris Pine in Wilde’s high-concept psychological thriller about a young couple residing in an idyllic, cult- like community.

Don’t Worry Darling was the most talked about entry at the Venice Film Festival, as it faced a number of controversies, including rumors of acrimony between Wilde and Pugh.

Hollywood insiders aren’t convinced that the general moviegoing public cares about the off-screen drama. If anything, the publicity may have increased awareness.

Of more concern are tepid reviews. Don’t Worry Darling currently has a 35 percent critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, dimming its award chances and making it more difficult to attract older adults, who are known for relying on reviews when deciding whether to make a trip to the cinema.

Don’t Worry Darling should have no trouble winning the weekend ahead of the critically acclaimed The Woman Kingwhich could earn as much as $11 million in its second weekend, a narrow decline from the opening weekend.

Another title to watch is the rerelease of Avatar, the top earning film of all time. Director James Cameron and his producing partner Jon Landau are in the midst of prepping for the December release of the sequel Avatar: The Way of Waterand returning the original movie to cinemas is just one component of a sprawling marketing campaign that’s being orchestrated by Disney and 20th Century.

Avatar should collect between $7 million this weekend.



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