Well, that didn’t go well. Surprising absolutely no one who’s seen the batshit crazy thing—even, apparently, the suits at Paramount—Darren Aronofsky’s chaotic, allegorical chamber thriller Mother! flopped hard at the box office this weekend. Unleashed onto a whopping 2,368 screens, and onto an audience that was surely expecting a much less out-there star vehicle for Jennifer Lawrence, the critically divisive movie opened with just $7.5 million—less than any wide release the bankable star has ever appeared in. It’s a predictable fate for the rare film to pull the elusive “F” CinemaScore from opening-night audiences.
Mother! didn’t need stiff competition to underperform; its go-for-broke insanity may have proved to be box-office poison no matter what it was competing against. Still, it couldn’t have helped that Paramount opened the film directly in the wake of another, more literal horror movie featuring long passages in a house haunted by destructive forces. If audiences had a choice to make on this September weekend between a bunch of kids being menaced by a killer clown and Jennifer Lawrence being menaced by artistic ego, they sure made It.
Shaping up to be an all-time smash, the Stephen King adaptation added another $60 million in its sophomore weekend, for a scary-good 10-day total of about $220 million. That makes It the biggest hit ever released in September, just one week after it scored the month’s biggest debut. It also puts this super-sized fright flick in the running for a bunch of other records: It will soon enter the top ten for R-rated movies, and now sits at no. 5 worldwide for horror movies, behind only The Exorcist, Jaws, and two M. Night Shyamalan movies, Signs and The Sixth Sense. The film is doing so well that it’s singlehandedly helping the industry recover from the slump it’s been in these past few weeks.
Sandwiched between a wild success and a crushing failure—speaking strictly in terms of commercial reception; Mother! is a hell of a film, no matter how much audiences despised it—American Assassin made a modest but respectable $14.8 million from moviegoers more interested in seeing asses kicked than having the shit scared out of them. Otherwise, it was mostly August holdovers holding down the multiplex, with Annabelle: Creation now poised to become late summer’s only $100-million movie in the next few days. If, by the way, you’re feeling courageous and want to slightly boost the returns of the boldest American studio release since The Counselor, you better hurry: Even with its studio behind it, Mother! isn’t long for theaters.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.