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Hustlers earns Jennifer Lopez a career high opening with $33.2 million debut

Hustlers has danced its way to a massive second-place opening weekend.

The STXfilms release exceeded expectations to open to an estimated $33.2 million across 3,250 theaters. Hustlers marks career highs for both of its leading ladies, Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu. This is Lopez’s best live-action opening ever, coming in at over $10 million ahead of her previous record-holder 2005’s Monster-in-Law. Newer box office draw Wu also earned her biggest opening weekend ever with Hustlers beating the $26.5 million debut of Crazy Rich Asians.

While Hustlers is the weekend’s best success story, It: Chapter Two continues to scare up impressive returns, taking first place for the second weekend running with an estimated $40.7 million across 4,570 theaters. The horror sequel also expanded in international markets, bringing its estimated global total to $323.3 million. Angel Has Fallen secures the third-place spot in its fourth week of release with an estimated $4.4 million in ticket sales.

Hustlers, which is based on a New York Magazine article follows a band of former strippers, led by Lopez’s Ramona, who come together to turn the tables on their Wall Street Clients. In addition to Lopez and Wu’s buzzy leading roles, the film also stars Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, and features memorable appearances from Cardi B, Lizzo, and Usher. Lorene Scafaria (The Meddler) writes and directs. It marked the biggest opening ever for the relatively new STX Entertainment.

The film is a testament to the power of women at the box office (and behind-the-scenes given it was written, directed, and produced by women). STX reports that the opening weekend audience was 67 percent female and 69 percent of the film’s audience was over the age of 25. With its diverse cast, the film also resonated with a wide audience, bringing in a crowd that was 36 percent Caucasian, 26 percent African-American, 27 percent Hispanic, 9 percent Asian and 3 percent Native American or other ethnicities. Time and again, Hollywood likes to trot out the argument that diverse, female-driven films don’t make money, but Hustlers stands as proof to the contrary with glowing reviews to match.

This weekend’s other big opening The Goldfinch is the opposite of a success story. Based on the Pulitzer-prize winning novel by Donna Tartt, the film opened in eighth place with an estimated $2.6 million in ticket sales across 2,542 theaters. It marks one of the worst openings of all time, given that it’s the sixth-worst debut ever for a film launching in over 2,500 theaters.

The Goldfinch, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (as did Hustlers), follows the tale of a 13-year-old boy into early adulthood after he survives a terrorist bombing that kills his mother. The boy finds solace in a painting he finds amid the destruction at an art museum, sending him on a dangerous journey that parallels his growing up. Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Jeffrey Wright, Denis O’Hare, and Finn Wolfhard star in the film directed by John Crowley (Brooklyn).

Undoubtedly, The Goldfinch was hurt by scathing reviews, though, strangely, it did earn a higher CinemaScore than Hustlers, clocking in with a B to Hustlers B-.

Though it’s fallen from the top 10, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood continues to make box office news. The ninth film from Quentin Tarantino is now his second highest performing title behind Django Unchained. It hit $329.4 million at the global box office this weekend to surpass 2009’s Inglourious Basterds.

Holdovers round out the top five with Good Boys and The Lion King continuing to pull in impressive returns. In its fifth weekend, original comedy Good Boys lands in fourth place with an estimated $4.3 million in ticket sales. Disney’s The Lion King continues to be one of the biggest success stories of the year, taking fifth place with an estimated $3.5 million in ticket sales in its ninth weekend of release.

Overall box office is down 5.7 percent to date, according to Comscore, a nice improvement following a slow summer. Check out the Sept. 13-15 numbers below.

1. It Chapter Two— $40.7 million
2. Hustlers— $33.2 million
3. Angel Has Fallen— $4.4 million
4. Good Boys— $4.3 million
5. The Lion King— $3.5 million
6. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw— $2.8 million
7. Overcomer— $2.7 million
8. The Goldfinch— $2.6 million
9. The Peanut Butter Falcon— $1.9 million
10. Dora and the Lost City of Gold — $1.9 million