Don’t worry, darlings, Don’t Worry Darling is finally out in theaters, which means we’re ALMOST done talking about this movie (probably), after what feels like a seventy-two-year press cycle for this film. It feels like this movie came out a month ago, we’ve been talking about it so much—and it probably should have opened Labor Day weekend, when there was absolutely zero competition—but now that it’s here, we can get down to discussing the film itself, and the business of the film itself. A full review is coming later today, for now, let’s talk about the box office. Cease worrying, darlings, it’s pretty good!
Darling opened with $19.2 million in North America, and another $10.8 million internationally, giving it a $30 million global launch (the Avatar re-release won the global weekend with $31 million, but I REFUSE to talk about Avatar in an official capacity right now). The domestic projection for Darling was $20 million, so it’s right in line with expectations. And with an estimated $35 million budget (though it cost production company New Line around $20 million to buy the script package, and it’s not clear if the estimated budget includes that number, but knowing Hollywood accountants, probably not, unless and until Warner Brothers needs to keep from paying out talent bonuses), the movie doesn’t even need to make $100 million to break even. So, a mid-budget movie directed by a high-profile woman starring a global pop icon and one of the hottest young actresses in town opened to solid numbers. This is a success story, except…
The domestic opening was frontloaded with Thursday previews and Friday box office. Ticket sales declined more than average over the weekend. That means people who wanted to see the movie ran out and saw it immediately, and then didn’t recommend it to people. Backing that up is a B- CinemaScore, which means most people who saw it are mixed-negative on it. So, word of mouth probably won’t be favorable, and maybe, despite the solid opening weekend, we should be worrying, darlings. Next weekend will tell the tale for sure (Bros is the big new movie next week).
Because Darling is a mid-budget movie, it doesn’t have a huge hurdle to clear to profitability. That is in its favor. And opening well despite all the worrying, darlings, is a sign that Olivia Wilde can move up the ranks, making bigger and costlier films, and get the job done (er, more on this later). She might wear the gossip for a while, but professionally, she comes out of the worrying okay. Her sophomore effort is an ambitious leap from her indie breakout, and it turned out to be a mixed bag. That’s not the end of the world, and the people who will fund her next projects know that. If anything, she has demonstrated a scope and style many producers will want to be in business with, in the long run, I don’t think this dings Wilde’s career, which is good. It’s how it should be. She should be able to take chances and not be thrown in director’s jail for only partially succeeding in all her aims.
At last, the film is out. It’s done and dusted. And if the box office DOES peter out and Don’t Worry Darling ends up a middling financial return, that is also not the end of the world. It didn’t cost $200 million, no one is going bankrupt if it “only” breaks even. Everyone can move on. Wilde, to that secret Marvel project that’s probably a Spider-Woman movie; Harry Styles back to his world tour that has been going on longer than the worrying, darlings; and Florence Pugh to slew of upcoming films, including Dune Part Deunx and Marvel’s Thunderbolts. For now, the worrying is over, darlings. At least until the inevitable oral history of the making of Don’t Worry Darling drops.
Live long and gossip,