Don't Worry Darling Wins Weekend Box Office Despite (Or Because Of) BTS Drama

Olivia Wilde in a yellow dress holding a drink in Don't Worry Darling.
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and Olivia Wilde’s sophomore effort -- Don’t Worry Darling -- might be proof of that. As behind-the-scenes drama and rumors of feuds overshadowed the movie itself, the psychological thriller still handily won the weekend domestic box office, pulling in $19.2 million. About 40 members of the Don’t Worry Darling crew released a statement to dispute Florence Pugh and Wilde’s rumored “screaming match,” and there was also that whole “Did Harry Styles spit on Chris Pine?” situation. But whether it was the drama on screen or off screen that piqued moviegoers’ attention, there were butts in the seats this weekend.

Audiences also saw Avatar return to theaters, and some second- and third-week films were hanging in there. So take a look at the full Top 10 chart, and then we’ll break it all down. 

Don't Worry Darling leads the Box Office on its premiere weekend.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)
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TITLEWEEKEND GROSSDOMESTIC GROSSLWTHTRS
1. Don't Worry Darling*$19,200,000$19,200,000Row 0 - Cell 3 4,113
2. The Woman King$11,145,000$36,298,72413,765
3. Avatar$10,000,000$770,507,625Row 2 - Cell 3 1,860
4. Barbarian$4,800,000$28,430,26122,890
5. Pearl$1,918,555$6,651,25532,982
6. See How They Run$1,900,000$6,105,03942,502
7. Bullet Train$1,815,000$99,247,95451,907
8. DC League of Super Pets$1,765,000$90,041,91172,351
9. Top Gun: Maverick$1,559,847$711,568,00062,025
10. Minions: The Rise of Gru$1,040,000$365,547,23091,642

While director and star Olivia Wilde didn’t seem pleased that feud rumors were dominating her movie's headlines when she broke her silence on the spitting incident, it could be argued that they actually helped the movie overcome critics’ tepid reactions. CinemaBlend’s Eric Eisenberg called Don’t Worry Darling “a mystery missing momentum,” and the movie maintains a less-than-ideal B- on CinemaScore. Critics rated it at just 38% on Rotten Tomatoes, but the overall audience score was much more forgiving, with more than 500 reviews averaging for a score of 80% fresh. 

Also of note are the movie’s international numbers, as it earned another $10.8 million for a global total of $30 million in its debut, per The Numbers. Considering the film’s reported $35 million budget, that certainly goes in the “win” column. Now, we’ll have to see if it’s got legs in the theaters.  

Avatar

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Avatar Makes A Big Return To The Big Screen

Ahead of the long-awaited Avatar: The Way of Water, which is set for a December 16 release marked with high box office expectations for the Disney movie, the mega company has removed the 2009 original from its streaming service. Viewers will instead have to visit the theater if they want a refresher on the events of the first movie, as Avatar was re-released this weekend. Apparently, a good number of people were game, with the movie pulling in $10 million over the Friday-through-Sunday period to bring its overall domestic earnings to $770.5 million. 

Domestically, Avatar is the fourth-highest grossing movie of all time (behind Spider-Man: No Way Home, Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: The Force Awakens). It also firmly stands atop the worldwide box office winners, now with $2.86 billion. 

The Woman King Drops Just 42% In Second Week 

Falling from its No. 1 spot this week — but still beating out the returning Avatar — is The Woman King starring Viola Davis. The historical epic rode its Toronto International Film Festival buzz to an opening weekend win at the box office and claimed silver in its second week with an additional $11.1 million. That’s just a 42% drop, as it now holds a domestic gross of $36.3 million.

In its third week, the horror movie Barbarian dug its nails in for another $4.8 million, as second-week films Pearl and See How They Run each added just under $2 million. Their earnings fell just 39% and 37%, respectively, but each movie was shown in more theaters than during their premiere weeks. With the former's budget of just $1 million, this is still a win for A24. 

Nearing the end of their runs in the Top 10 might be Top Gun: Maverick and Minions: The Rise of Gru, with the sequels claiming the bottom two spots this week after impressive 18- and 13-week runs, respectively. But, as my daughter pointed out, Minions don't die, and I wouldn't bet against Tom Cruise either. So I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Bullet Train Nears Big Domestic Milestone 

After its eighth weekend in theaters, the Brad Pitt ensemble Bullet Train remains securely in the middle of the top 10, and it’s possibly just a week away from crossing the $100 million mark in domestic gross. With $99.3 million total, including the $1.8 million it picked up this weekend, the action-comedy better work fast, as it continues to be shown in fewer theaters around the country. This week it played on nearly 700 fewer screens than the week before. 

We've definitely got some things to keep an eye on in ticket sales over the next week. Will Don't Worry Darling lose the momentum it gained from pre-release press, or will word-of-mouth advertising push more people to witness the cast's chemistry for themselves? The highly anticipated and heavily promoted Bros is set to hit theaters on September 30 (and early reactions are seeing critics praising the queer rom-com), alongside the ridiculously creepy-looking Smile. With such low numbers in the Top 10, I'd definitely expect those to disrupt some of these rankings. 

Join us back here next week to see how everything shakes out, and until then, be sure to check out our 2022 movie release schedule to see what else is coming to theaters soon.

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.