If the current projections are correct, Hustlers will achieve a new career-high box office opening for star Jennifer Lopez. Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World), Hustlers is a true story-based crime drama about a group of NYC strippers who scam the wealthy stock traders and CEOs visiting their club, following the late 2000s financial crisis. It earned glowing reviews from its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last week, with Lopez generating Oscar buzz for her leading performance. No doubt, that's welcome news for its distributor, STX.
STXfilms, for those unaware, has been having financial problems of late. It started 2019 off strongly thanks to the success of The Upside, but has since released a string of commercial duds (The Best of Enemies, UglyDolls, Poms) that've only compounded its money issues from the last couple years. Fortunately, Hustlers is expected to help turn their prospects around when it arrives Thursday evening - and it might even set a new record for J-Lo, in the process.
According to Deadline, Hustlers is predicted to open with $25-30 million at the domestic box office this weekend. That would mark the biggest opening for not only Lopez (surpassing her previous career-best $23.1 million debut for 2005's Monster-in-Law), but also STX, overtaking the $23.7 million launch for 2016's Bad Moms. And while IT Chapter Two is still expected to repeat atop the U.S. box office in its second weekend (declining 60% to $36 million from its debut), Hustlers could end up giving it a serious run for its money.
Timing is another factor working in Hustlers' favor. By hitting theaters just a week after its stellar TIFF premiere, the film will be able to tap into the early buzz and strike while the iron's still red-hot. Competition won't be too intense this weekend either, with The Goldfinch being the only other wide release. The big screen adaptation of Donna Tartt's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel also debuted at TIFF this month, but has so far gotten a pretty cold reception from critics. And with The Goldfinch currently projected to open with less than $10 million in the U.S., that will give Hustlers all the more room to breathe and thrive at the box office.
Assuming the audience response is as enthusiastic as the early critical reactions, Hustlers ought to have long legs at the box office throughout the second half of September. Films like Ad Astra and Rambo: Last Blood are expected to do sturdy business when they premiere over that frame, but are targeting different demographics than Hustlers. As a result, Scafaria's movie shouldn't be hurt by their arrival. On the contrary, Hustlers has the potential to cover its production costs (estimated around $21 million) within its first two weeks of release, and possibly hang around the top 10 in the U.S. all the way through October.
- Hustlers (2019) release date: Sep 13, 2019