Is it true that, as the saying goes, there is no such thing as bad publicity?
“Don’t Worry Darling,” a movie that has been largely overshadowed in recent weeks by relentless off-screen controversy, will test that adage when it debuts in more than 4,000 North American theaters this weekend.
The Warner Bros. film, directed by Olivia Wilde and starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, is expected to gross $18 million to $20 million in its opening weekend, suggesting that behind-the-scenes drama isn’t hindering first ticket sales. It can even lift them. Some independent tracking services indicate initial revenue could be as high as $25 million, but anywhere in the high teens would be a solid start for “Don’t Worry Darling,” which costs $35 million to produce.
Reviews for “Don’t Worry Darling” weren’t too enthusiastic (the film has a 35% on Rotten Tomatoes), but that probably won’t matter to Harry Styles fans eager to see the pop sensation in his first. big movie role. According to tracking, presales were strong with its core fan base, women ages 17 to 24.
The lead-up to “Don’t Worry Darling” has been littered with tabloids, including but not limited to Wilde, as the film’s trailer was shown at the industry convention CinemaCon, showing publicly presented divorce papers onstage; Shia LaBeouf (who was initially hired for the role that eventually went to Styles) disputed — with receipts — Wilde’s claim that he had been fired from the set; and Pugh who has almost completely relinquished promotional efforts amid rumors of tension with Wilde.
On screen, the drama revolves around Alice and Jack (played by Pugh and Styles), a newlywed couple living in the quaint, experimental utopia of Victory – with killer modern homes and mid-century furnishings that make Don Draper’s heart beat faster . As the film progresses, Alice grows increasingly suspicious that her husband’s hyper-secret business is hiding disturbing secrets. Wilde, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Nick Kroll and Chris Pine round out the cast.
In Varieties review lead film critic Owen Gleiberman praised the “tasty dream images” and “pop ambition,” while writing “Don’t Worry Darling” should have no trouble finding an audience. “But,” he admits, “the film takes you on a ride that gets less and less sparkly as it goes on.”
While “Don’t Worry Darling” as the only new nationwide offering will easily top the domestic box office charts, Disney’s reissue of “Avatar” also appears to be successfully raking in an audience.
While tracking isn’t immediately available for re-release, ticket presales indicate that “Avatar” could earn $8 million to $10 million over the weekend, a significant result for a 13-year-old movie, even if that movie happens to be the most profitable worldwide release in history. It’s also a positive sign for “Avatar: The Way of Water,” director James Cameron’s decade-to-date sequel, which hits theaters in December.
At the very least, the re-release means movie operators will stock up on their 3D glasses for Cameron’s grand return to Pandora.