Audience members are reacting harshly to Jennifer Lawrence’s new horror thriller mother!, at least according to CinemaScore. Since her Best Actress Oscar-nominated turn in the 2010 backwoods thriller Winter’s Bone, Lawrence’s star has risen dramatically in Hollywood, by helping The Hunger Games franchise earn nearly $3 billion at the global box office and three more Oscar nominations (including a Best Actress win for Silver Linings Playbook).
The acclaimed actress, essentially, seems to have her pick of roles and clearly likes to examine all genres, as evidenced by her turns in the X-Men movie franchise (as the young version of Mystique) and the futuristic sci-fi drama Passengers. She’s briefly dipped her toe in the horror, too, with 2012’s House at the End of the Street, and has stayed away from the genre until this weekend, with the debut of director Darren Aronofsky’s mother!
By all indications, moviegoers don’t seem to like Lawrence in horror movies all that much. Following the pitiful $44.2 million global take of House at the End of the Street (which earned $31.6 million domestically and $12.6 million internationally), mother! — about a married couple (Lawrence and Javier Bardem whose house is besieged by strangers — is being largely rejected by audiences, at least in their opinions of the film.
Related: How Scary is mother!?
According to CinemaScore, a renowned polling organization that has been surveying opening night reactions from moviegoers for nearly 40 years, mother! received an “F,” which, of course, is the worst-possible grade a film can receive. By contrast, the weekend’s other major new release, the adaptation of late author Vince Flynn’s counter-terrorism novel American Assassin, scored a “B+,” which is on par with the weekend’s project No. 1 film, the adaptation of Stephen King’s horror thriller IT, which also earned a “B+.”
It’s hard to tell just exactly what brought on the across-the-board rejection of mother! by moviegoers. It could be that Lawrence is simply becoming too over-exposed at this point, or perhaps prospective audiences are tired of her injecting politics into her promotional interviews.
One thing for certain is that an A-list star doesn’t automatically mean that a film will be embraced by audiences. IT is made up largely of virtual unknowns apart from Pennywise actor Bill Skarsgard (who earned notices for his Netflix series Hemlock Grove); and American Assassin, while featuring a notable, rising star in the lead with Dylan O’Brien, only has screen veteran and Oscar-nominee Michael Keaton as its only marquee name.
In addition, the “F” grade by CinemaScore participants also seems to deepen the divide between moviegoers and critics. The film largely earned praise in early reviews from critics, and currently holds a respectable 69 percent “fresh” rating from review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
Survey results and movie reviews notwithstanding, the ultimate judgment of mother! will come Sunday when the film’s opening box office numbers roll in. IT, not surprisingly, it projected to win the weekend with $50 million or more in domestic box office receipts, while both American Assassin and mother! were both initially expected to earn somewhere in the $10 million to $15 million range.
Once the dust settles from the weekend box office, it appears that Lawrence and her handlers are going to need to have a sit-down and examine whether mother! was a mere fluke in an otherwise very successful career. Is some sort of recalibration in terms of her role choices or how she comports herself when promotion her films is in order the next time around? It’s something that Lawrence will have to figure out soon, especially with her spy thriller Red Sparrow in the wings in 2018.
NEXT: mother! Ending Explained
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