‘Hustlers’ makes ‘It: Chapter Two’ fight for top box office spot

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“Hustlers,” a comedy about strippers robbing Wall Street men came close to knocking that killer clown, Pennywise, from the top box office spot, but “It: Chapter Two” held on for a second consecutive week. The Jennifer Lopez film outpaced expectations with a very aggressive marketing campaign.

It wasn’t quite enough to take down Pennywise the clown, but Jennifer Lopez and the scheming strippers of “Hustlers” topped even the high expectations they brought to the weekend box office.

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“It: Chapter Two” brought in $40.7 million in the U.S. and Canada to keep the top spot in its second week and has earned a total of $153.8 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. The original, the biggest September release ever, had earned more than $200 million at the same point two years ago.

“Hustlers,” riding stellar reviews, film-festival buzz and Oscar talk for Lopez, earned $33.2 million, a record for a film from STX Entertainment, which was launched less than five years ago.

The film, budgeted at just $20 million, became the rare recent hit that was neither a sequel nor a reboot nor part of a series. It was also the biggest opening ever for a live-action Lopez film, and had numbers comparable to co-star Constance Wu’s hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” whose long-term box office success could be a model for “Hustlers.”

“This is exactly the kind of movie that every studio dreams of producing, because it’s going to be profitable, prestigious and a long-term performer,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “A lot of original type movies that are non-franchise non-sequels, many of them have had a rough go this year. This is a nice counter-balance to that.”

Based on a New York magazine piece, “Hustlers,” written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, tells the true story of a group of New York City strippers who, put out by the recession’s effects on their Wall Street patrons, start a side con that involves drugging their wealthy marks and running up exorbitant credit card bills that they get a cut of.

“We didn’t look at it as a stripper movie,” said STX Motion Picture Group Chairman Adam Fogelson. “We looked at it as a crime movie, not unlike something like ‘Wolf of Wall Street.’”

Even with its buzz, industry projections had the film making about $25 million over the weekend, but it appealed to an even wider audience than expected.

“It definitely skewed female as we always expected, but it was very diverse as far as ethnic groups, and it brought in a broad range of ages for an R-rated film,” Fogelson said.

And with its strong word-of-mouth and the forthcoming season of awards and end-of-year top 10 lists, it could keep bringing in the dollar bills for months.

“This is a movie that everyone is talking about,” Fogelson said.

“Angel Has Fallen,” starring Gerard Butler, was a distant third with $4.4 million, and has brought in $60.4 million in its four weeks of release.

The success softens the fact that Warner Bros. was also behind this weekend’s biggest box-office stumble: “The Goldfinch,” which opened to about $2.6 million according to Comscore, which compiles box office data. It is a paltry amount given the movie’s considerable assets: It is an adaptation of a Pulitzer Prize-winning best seller by Donna Tartt; it is the director John Crowley’s follow up to his critically acclaimed “Brooklyn”; and it stars Nicole Kidman and Ansel Elgort. “It: Chapter Two” was hardly a slouch, despite underperforming compared to the 2017 original. Bringing in more than $150 million in two weeks during usually dead September is a rare achievement.

“The Goldfinch” and “Hustlers” were also the only major newcomers this weekend, which should have left “The Goldfinch” with some room to spread its wings. But it seems that the movie, with a current Rotten Tomatoes rating of 24 percent, wasn’t able to overcome poor reviews.

“It’s a massive number,” said Dergarabedian. “The ‘It’ franchise has now done over a billion dollars worldwide. That first film was really lightning in a bottle.”

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North American Box Office

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “It: Chapter Two,” $40.7 million ($47 million international).

2. “Hustlers,” $33.2 million ($4.5 million international).

3. “Angel Has Fallen,” $4.4 million ($4.9 million international).

4. “Good Boys,” $4.3 million ($1.8 million international).

5. “The Lion King,” $3.6 million ($6.9 million international).

6. “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” $2.8 million ($8.1 million international).

7. “Overcomer,” $2.7 million.

8. “The Goldfinch,” $2.6 million ($985,000 international).

9. “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” $1.9 million.

10. “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” $1.85 million ($4.4 million international).

Worldwide Box Office

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Comscore:

1. “It: Chapter Two,” $47 million.

2. “Detective Conan: The Fist of Blue Sapphire,” $25.4 million.

3. “Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos,” $19 million.

4. “The Last Wish,” $18.7 million.

5. “The Legend of Hei,” $14.5 million.

6. “Downton Abbey,” $11.7 million.

7. “Tazza: One-Eyed Jacks,” $11 million.

8. “Ne Zha,” $9.9 million.

9. “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” $8.4 million.

10. “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” $8.1 million.