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“Hustlers” Surprises to Challenge “It” For Weekend Supremacy

The fall movie season entered its second weekend with last week’s winner “It: Chapter 2” looking to score a repeat victory. But to do that the horror sequel had to fend off a few newcomers that might not have been at the top of everyone’s radar but showed significant promise after their debuts at the Toronto International Film Festival. The female-driven crime drama “Hustlers” left the festival with rave reviews and Oscar buzz while “The Goldfinch” was much less respected but had the distinction of being based on a recent Pulitzer Prize winning novel which, as history has shown, is typically a formula for moderate to extreme success. Was the “It” sequel able to hold off either of these new major releases or did we get a new king (or queen) of the weekend? Let’s find out in this week’s Box Office Breakdown.

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While it wasn’t a runaway weekend, “It: Chapter 2” did hold on for a second consecutive week at number one making is the sixth of the past seven films to top the chart to earn repeat weekend wins. With a $40.7 million domestic weekend “It: Chapter 2” pushed its domestic numbers to over $153 million after ten days while earning another $47 million overseas for a worldwide gross of $323.3 million in its first two weekends. Together the “It” duology has topped a billion dollars and it still has yet to debut in Japan. “It: Chapter 2” is also the first horror movie to repeat at the top of the box office since “Halloween (2018)” in October of last year.

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“It: Chapter 2’s” biggest competition came from a surprising contender, “Hustlers”. The crime drama starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu earned a respectable $33.2 million over the weekend, well above expectations, after debuting at the TIFF and earning Oscar buzz for its cinematography and Lopez’s performance. The film earned the largest opening ever for STX Entertainment which has had a rough go over the last few years with the failures of “The Bye Bye Man”, “The Space Between Us”, “The Circle”, “Valarian”, “Mile 22”, “The Happytime Murders”, “Peppermint”, “UglyDolls” and “Poms”. However, the studio did earn a hit with “The Upside” earlier this year and “Hustlers” follows suit with the studio’s 2017/2018 award contender “Molly’s Game”, another female led based-on-a-true-story drama. Internationally “Hustlers” earned another $4.46 million. You can read my review of “Hustlers” by clicking here. The rest of the top five consisted of holdovers “Angel Has Fallen”, “Good Boys” and “The Lion King”.

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The other big newcomer of the weekend was “The Goldfinch” and in a very rare occurrence I skipped this movie after originally planning to see it. I even did a list of movies based on Pulitzer Prize Winning Novels in anticipation of its release. But the buzz over “Hustlers” dragged me away from the film and it doesn’t look like I missed much. “The Goldfinch” was dead on arrival after debuting to sour reviews in Toronto. It’s $2.6 million debut was only good for number eight on the weekend and is the sixth worst performance in history by a film debuting in over 2,500 theaters. It also continues a weak year for Warner Bros. who may have found success with big blockbusters like “It: Chapter 2” and “Shazam!”  but have also had a string of sub-par releases including an underwhelming run by “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and numerous financial flops like “Shaft” and “The Kitchen” both of which I also chose to skip this year. The rest of the top five consisted of “Hobbs & Shaw” and “Overcomer” in sixth and seventh and “The Peanut Butter Falcon” (returning to the top ten) and “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” in ninth and tenth. “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”, “Ready or Not” and “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood” were bumped from the top ten.

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Don’t expect “It” to last another week at the top as several major releases will challenge and likely shake up the top five by this time next week. Leading the way is the Brad Pitt-led science fiction epic that has already earned rave reviews “Ad Astra”. Also on the docket are “Downton Abbey” (based on the popular television show) and “Rambo: Last Blood” which is slated to be Sylvester Stallone’s final take on one of his most iconic characters. Which film will carry enough steam to inevitably dethrone Pennywise from the top? We’ll check back next Monday to find out.

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