Box office: 'Don't Worry Darling' aims to surprise, 'Avatar' re-release on tap

·Senior Reporter
·3 min read

The box office will have two buzzy films to showcase this weekend with the Olivia Wilde-drected "Don't Worry Darling" and the re-release of "Avatar."

The former is hoping to rise above poor reviews — the Rotten Tomatoes critic score is currently 31% — and negative publicity amid off-screen drama and on-set production controversies that raises the question: Is all press good press?

"It's still hard to really pick a side," Box Office Pro Chief Analyst Shawn Robbins told Yahoo Finance when asked. "I think it helps with some of the audience, but I think it does turn off some of the other audience."

Robbins noted that fans of Harry Styles, the A-list pop star turned up-and-coming actor, will see the film no matter what. However, negative reviews could be a turn-off for others.

"The question is: 'Which one of those two on the total board has a bigger impact?'" He added. "I think it may just balance out to some extent."

Box Office: 'Don't Worry Darling' to hit theaters on Friday (Courtesy: Warner Bros.)
Box Office: 'Don't Worry Darling' to hit theaters on Friday (Courtesy: Warner Bros.)

Warner Bros. expects "Don't Worry Darling" to pull in $18 million in ticket sales during its opening weekend.

Pre-sales have been strong, according to Robbins, who believes the film will likely come in above expectations, although he admitted that forecasting models have been usually volatile due to the wide-ranging factors plaguing the debut.

Nevertheless, the ceiling to success remains low considering the film's budget of $35 million.

'Avatar' re-release to be 'significant enough' for theaters

Disney's 'Avatar' (DIS) will be re-released in domestic theaters on Friday, 13 years after first premiering, ahead of the sequel's highly-anticipated debut on December 16.

The re-release, which has already garnered $877K in select overseas markets, should be a good thing for both the franchise and theater chains alike, especially considering the lull in new content.

"I think 'Avatar's' [ticket sales] will be significant enough," Robbins said, estimating that it should easily land in the top three highest grossing films for the weekend — and might even reach second place if it can beat out Viola Davis' "The Woman King."

Box Office to welcome re-release of Disney's 'Avatar' (Courtesy: 20th Century Studios)
Box Office to welcome re-release of Disney's 'Avatar' (Courtesy: 20th Century Studios)

"It could touch $10 million — I wouldn't be shocked if it did," the analyst surmised, adding: "Nobody's going to really complain about that."

Film supply is set to significantly slow down this year, stalled by pandemic backlogs and post-production supply chain issues, and the domestic box office has suffered as a result. So far this year, the annual box office take is down about 30% compared to the same point in 2019, according to Comscore data.

The slowdown in big-budget movies has been a headache for theater chains struggling to bounce back from the pandemic.

Britain's Cineworld Group (CINE.L), which filed for bankruptcy earlier this month after running up a debt load of more than $5 billion, specifically warned that the lack of films will likely impact attendance through the fall, further affecting its ability to cut debt.

Robbins said he wouldn't be surprised to see chains lean on other re-releases to make up for the dearth of supply, although he did note that the content slate will pick up later this fall with "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever's" November 11 debut.

Looking ahead, the analyst stressed that "more releases will be the most important thing to happen for the industry" heading into next year.

"We've seen the demand," he said. "Overall, the summer was living proof of the fact that people are ready to go back to movies. Not just for big blockbusters but mid-level movies as well. That audience is still there. We just haven't had enough of those movies yet."

Alexandra is a Senior Entertainment and Food Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193 and email her at alexandra.canal@yahoofinance.com

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