Why is this film noteworthy?
Actor Olivia Wilde made a splashy debut as a director with BOOKSMART in 2019. Not only did it gross a healthy $23M on a $6M budget, but critics loved it. The film currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 96%.
DON’T WORRY DARLING is Wilde’s follow-up as a director. This time around, the budget is larger, as are the expectations.
Box Office Universe
First, let’s understand how this film might perform based on historical comps. The chart below includes R-rated September releases from the past ten years. It excludes comedies, horror, and sequels. The average opening weekend for the group is $14.4M while the median is $13.3M.
In success, a film in this universe can open above $30M (THE EQUALIZER, HUSTLERS), while misfires can land below $5M. The middle ten of the 20 movies listed here fell between $8M and $20.8M. Where will DARLING land among this group? Let’s take a look.
When we started tracking this film on May 2nd, awareness was at 12%. Three months later, it has climbed four points to 16%, though we would expect the numbers to be higher given that two trailers (grey vertical bars) have been released during that time. Neither one of these trailers was especially effective in lifting awareness. To reach the median opening of $13.3 for its box office universe, we would like to see awareness climb above 35% by opening.
While awareness has held steady, there have been nice gains in interest. Since early May, interest has climbed from 4.5 to 5.1. That’s a meaningful jump, even if it is still on the low side among all films tracked on The Quorum. We would like to see interest for DARLING climb above 5.5 by opening. That certainly seems possible, given the upward trajectory over the past three months.
For a recent comp, we are using WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING. Both films feature female leads and have dramatic, gothic undertones about home and community. CRAWDADS debuted to $17M last month.
At the same distance from release, awareness for CRAWDADS was at 22%. It eventually made it to 33% by the time it opened. DARLING is currently tracking lower than CRAWDADS with six weeks to go.
When looking at interest, CRAWDADS was at 5.0 at the same distance from release as DARLING. Interest in the final week before release spiked, lifting CRAWDADS to a final score of 5.4. DARLINGS has a slight advantage over CRAWDADS in terms of interest.
Looking at just interest, DARLING looks like it could perform towards the higher end of its box office universe. That assumes it stays on this upward trajectory. The low awareness, despite the release of two trailers, is troubling. That suggests an opening on the lower side.
It was announced last month that DARLING will premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Not only is that a sign of confidence in the film, but it should go a long way towards lifting awareness. But given the numbers, as we see them today, the film is on pace to open towards the middle of its box office universe.