After nearly a month of mudslinging behind the scenes for drama Don’t Worry Darling which hovered around its Venice Film Festival world premiere, the sophomore feature directorial from Olivia Wilde finally opened in 4,000 theaters.
However, Warner Bros. need not sweat the tabloid headlines. No, all of that has only made this Florence Pugh, Harry Styles and Chris Pine genre pic that more intriguing to the point where the David Zaslav led Warner Bros Discovery could be looking at a fall hit with a $20M-$25M start per rival industry estimates. Warner Bros. is eyeing $17M for the $35M production, a noble start. As we told you, last night’s fan Imax screening at 100 locations, which had a live-stream of the NYC event Q&A with Wilde, Styles, Gemma Chan, Nick Kroll, Sydney Chandler, Kate Berlant, Asif Ali and Douglas Smith was the fastest selling for the large format exhibitor with 21 locations selling out in 24 hours, and more than 13K tickets sold at 100 Imax hubs.
For all the noise about Pugh not promoting Don’t Worry Darling extensively despite showing up at the Venice red carpet, and despite the fact that his movie is a love letter to her (she’s arguably in every frame of the film), the commercial overperformance of this Wilde movie rests on Styles and whether his fans show up and continue to go. Already the movie is hot with young female goers under 25. Whether or not this movie goes into a greater stratosphere in regards to its ticket sales ($25M+) will only be realized while we’re in the thick of the weekend. Styles, who is in the midst of a national tour, hasn’t posted about the movie yet to 110.8M social media fans across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook per RelishMix. Should Styles post about the film, why, the internet may just shut down. Note the multihyphenate’s promotional power: A Carpool Karoke he did with James Corden on YouTube five years ago racked up 75M views, while a Spill Your Guts segment on The Late Late Show two years ago stands at a whopping 70M views.
RelishMix measures Don’t Worry Darling‘s social media universe at 177.6M, far exceeding genre norms for drama thrillers. There’s also an additional reach of 132.3M from the cast. “YouTube runs strong with reposting engagement at 58.4M views and exceptional user generated reposting ratio across YouTube at 82:1 with two trailers plus review spots, analysis and gossip about the behind-the-scenes creation of the film and the Venice Film Festival, ” says RelishMix.
In regards to the social media chatter that RelishMix is noticing for the Wilde film: “Take sides as convo splits run mixed-leaning-positive. In terms of the target of Styles fans, they’re tracking his every move as he’s on a World Tour heading to Madison Square Garden and then Austin — but with an Instagram of 47M and total fans at 110M total, Styles has posted little so far for the movie, as all involved wait patiently. Styles has activated well in person at Venice and on YouTube interviews. On social, Styles fan’s can’t wait and are buying tickets early while early exit posts from fan screening are positive.”
RelishMix adds, “In threads responding to the trailer, there are endless references to the Stepford Wives which was produced in 1975 decades before Styles fans were born — and the recent Nicole Kidman remake from 2004, both available to stream, so keep an eye on download rates on those. Fans are debating the road this decisive storyline will take, about women being put in their place and if and how modern day men will respond and where the story will land. And the question also bubbling is in regards if Pugh was betrayed — as fans are also taking sides on channels for the Oscar nominated actress, Styles, and Wilde — all of which is stirring strong levels of conversation, awareness, and social intensity for the project .”
A big weekend win here for Don’t Worry Darling will not only continue to provide bread for starving theater owners, but will also serve as another adult non-tentpole win for Zaslav’s Warner Bros Discovery after Elvis brought older moviegoers back this summer, making $150.7M stateside after a $30M opening. Don’t Worry Darling was shepherded by New Line Boss Richard Brener and received great support from former Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Chairman Toby Emmerich when the pic required additional monies during the pandemic, as it like other productions grappled with a Covid shutdown.
Don’t Worry Darling will have Imax, PLFs, Dolby Cinema, and, yes, Motion Seats at its disposal. Thursday pre-shows start at 4PM.
The recent overindexing of TriStar’s The Woman King from $13M-$16M to a $19M start only provides confidence that Don’t Worry Darling can make a three-point shot at the box office; the pic having gained great traction across social media and the news. Meanwhile the Viola Davis female African warrior epic is looking to do $11M-$12M in weekend 2, -39%.
Also going wide this weekend is Disney’s re-release of 20th Century Studios’ James Cameron movie Avatar which is looking at between $7M-$10M at 1,850 locations. Disney curated the best quality screens here in PLF and 3D. Recent premium reissues, Spider-Man: No Way Home oath Jaws respectively did $5.4M and $2.6M. The re-release of Avatar serves three purposes: The commercial release, marketing awareness for the upcoming Avatar: The Way of Water on Dec. 16 and a dry-run for exhibition, vendors, supply chain partners in advance of the highly anticipated sequel.