2nd Updated writethru Sunday AM after 6:53 post: w/chart STX’s Jennifer Lopez stripper pic Hustlers is on its way to a $33.2M opening according to STX this morning, after a better then expected hold of $12.2M, -7%. Many forecasted that Saturday would be down 15% for Hustlers. As we saw a few weeks ago, and as we saw from the onset of the weekend, Hustlers reps a record opening for STX, Jennifer Lopez’s live-action fare (beating 2005’s Monster in Law at $23.1M), and Constance Wu, beating the 3-day of her Crazy Rich Asians ($26.5M).
To give you can idea of how some exhibitors got into the spirit of Hustlers, some hosted themed screenings (similar to what was done with Fifty Shades of Grey). One of the showtime options at Alamo Drafthouse were ‘Hustlers Rowdy Screenings’ with a menu built around the movie: Cardi B’s Fried Okrrrrrrra, Lizzo’s Flute (Chicken tinga flautas), Big D!ck Energy Tastes Like Collard Greens (grilled sausage, collard greens), Blame It on My Juice (Grey Goose-pineapple/lime drink), and Booty Shake (vanilla-rum, chocolate-caramel drink).
“You’ve got to hand it to STX, they cast this one up,” complimented a rival major studio marketing boss on how the Burbank, CA mini-major assembled Hustlers. There’s a star who appeals to every female moviegoer in this pic, and they bring their own cadre of fans: not just Jennifer Lopez, but Constance Wu and her Crazy Rich Asians and Fresh Off the Boat crowd, Cardi B’s followers, and Lili Reinhart and her Riverdale gang.
Yeah, yeah, New Line’s It Chapter Two is still No. 1 with $40.7M, -55% in weekend 2. Worldwide, Warners is glowing that the It series has crossed $1 billion worldwide. Not to rain on their parade, but that was to be expected with this strong genre franchise, not to mention the fact that Chapter Two would have a two-weekend grip on the top spot. Saturday drew an estimated $17.4M, +35%. But a stripper movie starring a movie star who has seen her fair share of peaks and valleys, rising to a record opening? Hustlers is something to turn heads. The pic’s success further underscores how low-to-mid-budget films, which were largely beaten down by Disney IP this summer, still work when they avoid a monster on the calendar, that streaming hasn’t gobbled up every genre, and that moviegoers still leave the house to see original, intriguing fare.
It helps when the pic is built for one particular strong demo: women and multi-cultural audiences. It’s been STX’s mission to develop product that’s geared toward a specific demo at less than major studio prices, and over-perform. Here’s Hustlers at a production cost of $20.7M as an example of everything STX stands for. Bravo. Other major studios are envious of STX this weekend: They wish they had a little cash cow like Hustlers, especially Warner Bros., whose feature adaptation of Pulitzer-prize winning drama The Goldfinch which continues to rust with an estimated $2.6M at 2,542 theaters.
At Deadline’s TIFF podcast for Hustlers, Lopez producer Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas detailed how STX motion picture chair Adam Fogelson completely understood Scafaria’s vision. While the producers and the filmmaker received notes from rival male studio execs that suggested the strippers should only drug bad guys, Fogelson got why that shouldn’t be the case. Not to mention –and the casting and social media power of Hustlers speaks to this– Fogelson knows how to eventize a movie (in all fairness, STX tried to stunt UglyDolls with its pop star cast of Pitbull, Janelle Monae and Kelly Clarkson, but the IP didn’t fly with families).
Hustlers boasts a social media universe across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube views, Facebook of 432.8M, which “is very rare for a drama crime title,” says social media analyst RelishMix. In regards to social media followers, Lopez, Wu, Reinhart, Cardi B, Lizzo and more count close to 320M alone. That’s free PR and marketing when it comes to propping Hustlers, and they’ve all been active promoting the film. Viral video rate for Hustlers materials is 15:1, above the crime drama average, off 11 official clips. The pic is clocking 60K YouTube views daily, ahead of the genre’s 22K average.
“The campaign has done a fine job of leveraging its non-traditional story, its immensely social cast, and promoted very efficiently over the past two months,” praises RelishMix about STX’s digital push for Hustlers, especially in the last two weeks.
In regards to the buzz for the pic on social, RelishMix says, “Fans of the Hustlers cast have been sharing trailers and stories related to the film for weeks. The official trailer debuted on July 17, only two months prior to the movie’s opening. But sneak looks on social media and Lopez’s interviews about the dancing and her pole installed in her home fed lots of speculation. So, the positive side for Hustlers is comprised of fans of the cast calling out their favorite co-stars, or from moviegoers that like the materials, the TIFF reviews, and the idea of women in a non-traditional business taking advantage of ‘The Man’.” Hustler‘s CinemaScore of a B- is a notch above Showgirl‘s C, and the same grade as Striptease‘s B-. PostTrak exits remain at 3.5 stars.
The other great thing about Hustlers is that it defies a sub-genre box office handicap. Stripper movies, like pirate movies before Disney made Pirates of the Caribbean, historically haven’t worked at the B.O. The last two major titles back in the 1990s, Showgirls and Striptease, were box office poison. We haven’t had a major female one since then (yes, there was the huge success of Magic Mike, a male stripper pic at $113.1M seven years ago, which also spawned a sequel four years ago), and the fact that it’s not an over-saturated sub-genre gave Hustlers an advantage. Add in Lopez dazzling on the pole, and audiences line up. In any case, stripper movies continue to work at the B.O. And that’s the beauty and the irony of the film business: A certain type of film doesn’t work — until it does. Check out Lopez’s “How I Mastered the Pole video” which drew 3.5M views:
Updated demos through Saturday for Hustlers show 67% Female, 69% over 25, and 63% between 18-34 years old. The mix was 36% Caucasian, 26% African American, 27% Hispanic, & 11% Asian/Other. Hustlers is playing best in on the coasts and the South-West, with the West Coast leading.
This past summer, rumors swirled around town about STX’s financial situation as they made multiple release slate changes. What we know now is that they opened Hustlers, and did a great job getting it there. Their investors haven’t bailed. The half billion that they are seeking is to expand their footing in the entertainment landscape. The company has a $300 million credit facility with JP Morgan Chase for productions against receivables when a pic works, an estimated $100M in the bank for operations. Hustlers is STX’s second success in less than 12 months after making The Upside their first No. 1 opener with $20.3M, and their second-highest grossing film of all-time ($108.2M; yes…we know, the pic was a distribution deal of Lantern’s film; STX didn’t have any equity in it, but the fact is team Fogelson resurrected that shelved movie several months after its TIFF premiere and marketed and distributed it to be 2019’s first mass-appealing hit). Nobody wants mini-majors to die, they want them to survive, and companies like Lionsgate, STX, MGM-UA are figuring it all out in the streaming era.
And big studios like Warner Bros. are figuring out how to handle adult fare like Goldfinch theatrically in the streaming era as well. Just as we celebrate one type of drama which isn’t a franchise, and pretty much counter-programming to It Chapter Two, another drama dies, and big. The only good news is that Goldfinch isn’t Nicole Kidman’s worst wide release opening of all-time: That belongs to 2014’s Before I Go to Sleep ($1.8M). Goldfinch, starring a huge ensemble cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Ansel Elgort, Jeffrey Wright, Sarah Paulson, etc. cost $49M (before P&A), 40% co-financed with Amazon. The studio acquired the rights to Donna Tartt’s novel back in 2014, and Amazon ultimately wanted in. They get the first pay window, while Warners is on the hook for P&A. Why make it? Because it’s based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller. So Warners made this story about a young boy whose mother is killed in a bombing and has a life that’s on par to one in a Charles Dickens novel. They hire Brooklyn director John Crowley, Oscar-winning DP Roger Deakins, and Oscar-nominated Her production designer K.K. Barrett. The problem? Condensing a near 800 page novel into a 2 1/2 hour movie, one which critics found the characters too cold, the pic’s pace too slow, and the payoff anticlimactic. New York Times critic A.O. Scott said that Goldfinch “looks and sounds like a movie without quite being one. It’s more like a Pinterest page or a piece of fan art, the record of an enthusiasm that is, to the outside observer, indistinguishable from confusion.” Deadline’s own Pete Hammond thought that TIFF reviewers had it out for the film: “A lot of critics will predictably review the book instead of what is on screen”. We’ve heard that the pic does play well with a 50+ skewing audience. CinemaScore exits gave it a B to Rotten Tomatoes’ 25% Rotten.
Updated demos through Saturday for Goldfinch show 61% female, 74% over 25 with 25-34 years old repping 31%. The mix was 63% Caucasian, 15% Hispanic, 15% Asian/Other, and 7% African American. CinemaScore exits show that 49% were over 50, giving the pic a B+. If Goldfinch made any money, it was on the coasts, but still it wasn’t strong.
Some marketing and PR folk believe that a studio shouldn’t bring a movie to TIFF unless it has the goods. I mean, look how Goldfinch got killed there. At the same time, sometimes TIFF is the only moment that a prestige film gets to shine in the sun, meaning with a big premiere and global press — even if it has zero chances of survival at the B.O. and awards season.
Chart as of Sunday AM with studio reported figures:
WEEKEND B.O. FOR sEPT. 13-15
Chart as of Saturday morning:
BOX OFFICE FOR SEPT. 13-15
UPDATED, Friday midday: STX’s Hustlers is poised to rake in a $28 million opening in second place overall for the weekend frame, a total that will easily be an opening record for STXfilms in the wake of Bad Moms ($23.8M) as well as Jennifer Lopez’s live-action pics. Hustlers is also an opening record for Constance Wu, higher than her Crazy Rich Asians ($26.5M three-day total, even though a five-day opening).
Wu plays Destiny, who tells the story of how she becomes the protege of Lopez’s Ramona, who eventually hatches a plan for Scores strippers to take down their Wall Street clients.
Even if grosses fall back to $26M, which is where some conservative projections lie, Hustlers will still be an opening record for STX and Lopez. The Friday total, including last night’s $2.5M, looks to be around $11M according to industry estimates.
Advance ticket sales for Hustlers is huge. Older females plan their trips to the cinema, so it stands to reason that this pic, which has exploded on social media, would be a hot ticket. Yesterday, Hustlers was the top-selling title on Fandango, beating It Chapter Two and The Goldfinch, repping more than 30% of all tickets sold on the movie ticket service.
Comscore/Screen Engine exits last night for Hustlers show 3 1/2 stars and a 50% definite recommend. Females over 25 repped 51% of the audience, males over 25 were 25%, with females under 25 at 15% and guys under 25 at 9%. Diversity breakdown was 42% Caucasian, 23% Hispanic, 23% African American and 6% Asian. Those who loved the film the most last night included females under 25 (91% positive), the under 25 set (87%), 45-54 demo (88%) and African Americans (84%).
New Line’s It Chapter Two at this point in time looks to be holding a bit better than expected with a second weekend of $41M in first place, down 55%, for a running 10-day total of $154M. However the same success can’t be said of Warner Bros’ drama The Goldfinch, which is just simply not flying with a Friday of $1.35M and a three-day of $4.1M, a complete disaster.
PREVIOUSLY, Friday 6:56 AM: STXfilms’ Hustlers, as anticipated, is off to a fantastic start for the weekend with $2.5 million. That’s a figure that’s higher than Universal’s Girls Trip ($1.7M), STX’s Bad Moms ($2M) and Paramount’s Rocketman ($2.3M).
The Jennifer Lopez-Constance Wu-Lili Reinhart pic, which was made for $20.7M before P&A, is expected to make at least $20M this weekend, with tracking and others betting Hustlers’ dance ends between $25M-$30M.
The project was passed over by Annapurna roughly a year ago with STX taking a shot at the feature adaptation of the New York magazine article “The Hustlers at Scores” by Jessica Pressler, with Lorene Scafaria writing and directing. Hustlers plays in 3,250 theaters today.
Anything over $23.1M this weekend for Hustlers reps a live-action opening record for Lopez, besting her 2005 high Monster in Law, and anything over $23.8M is a record opening for STX, which is greatly in need of a hit after the UglyDolls debacle. Hustlers is produced by Jessica Elbaum, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Jennifer Lopez, Benny Medina, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. EPs are Adam Fogelson, Robert Simonds, Pamela Thur, Alex Brown and Megan Ellison.
Yesterday in regular release, New Line’s It Chapter Two led all pics with $4M, -12% from Wednesday, for a first week of $113.1M, pacing 29% behind the first week of Chapter One which made $158.7M. The Andy Muschietti-directed sequel is expected to lead the box office with a second weekend around $36M, down 60%.
In second on Thursday was Millennium/Lionsgate’s Angel Has Fallen with $515,000, -8% at 3,229 for a third week of $8.5M and a running total of $56M. That is 6% ahead of previous installment London Has Fallen, which finaled stateside with $62.5M.
The Toronto Film Festival is a launchpad where films can either prime themselves for great riches or completely explode. Hustlers had no problems with critics at TIFF, who loved it with a 95% fresh score, while they shot down John Crowley’s The Goldfinch at 29% Rotten. That latter Warner Bros pic, based on the Donna Tartt bestseller, is unfortunately expected to die this weekend with a mid-single-digit gross, not enough for its $45M production before P&A. What can we say? Stripper pics are easy at the B.O., orphan dramas are hard. Warners didn’t hold any previews last night for Goldfinch.