A movie starring Jennifer Lopez as a seasoned stripper who scams Wall Street bankers could provide a much-needed win for studio STX Entertainment this weekend.
The $20-million, R-rated crime drama "Hustlers," also starring Constance Wu ("Crazy Rich Asians"), is expected to debut with about $25 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada this weekend, according to people who have reviewed pre-release audience surveys.
"Hustlers" should easily top Warner Bros.'s high-profile literary adaptation "The Goldfinch," which is likely to open modestly at the multiplex.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros.' horror blockbuster "It Chapter Two," will probably remain in first place after launching last week with $91 million in domestic grosses.
A strong start for the well-reviewed "Hustlers" would provide a welcome relief for Burbank-based STX, which has struggled to produce breakout hits in recent months.
Though the studio's Kevin Hart drama "The Upside" surprised by collecting $108 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada earlier this year, flops such as "UglyDolls" and "Poms" raised questions about whether the company could survive with its strategy of producing mid-budget movies amid the dominance of studio tent poles.
However, "Hustlers" appears to have some real momentum behind it. The film, in which a team of former strip club employees enact a Robin Hood-esque scheme against their well-heeled clients in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, has received stellar reviews and an enthusiastic reception at Toronto International Film Festival. Some movie critics have praised Lopez's performance as among her career-best. Lopez's successful 2018 film "Second Act" was also released by STX.
The film's ensemble of actresses also includes Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer and Lili Reinhart, along with music stars Cardi B and Lizzo. Directed by Lorene Scafaria, the movie was inspired by a 2015 New York Magazine article titled "The Hustlers at Scores," by Jessica Pressler.
Warner Bros.'s "The Goldfinch," the weekend's other major wide release, is expected to debut with $7 million to $12 million, which would represent a moderate launch for the $40-million production.
Based on the 784-page Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Donna Tartt, "The Goldfinch" has all the elements of a prestige drama. Directed by John Crowley ("Brooklyn") and shot by the legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, the movie stars Ansel Elgort as a young man whose mother was killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
But the 2 hr. 29 min. film's commercial prospects could be hampered by poor reviews, indicated by a 29% score on Rotten Tomatoes. The risky picture was co-financed by Amazon Studios, which reportedly covered at least 30% of the budget in exchange for the streaming rights.
Warner Bros. is riding high on the success of "It Chapter Two," from its New Line division. The $80-million production has collected $190.5 million in worldwide receipts so far, including $94 million from overseas. The film will probably add $35 million to $40 million to its domestic tally through Sunday.