Box Office Oracle — 09/13/2019-09/15/2019

Welcome to the Box Office Oracle–where new movies are pitted against each other for box office supremacy and only one can claim victory. Each week, I will be doing a quick box office prediction for all wide new releases. Sorry, obscure indie films I’ve never heard of, but you aren’t going to be discussed here unless you become big.

This is also something I’m going to keep as free of “controversy” if I can. This means that if, I don’t know, Jon Voight is voicing an evil government agent talking bear in a DreamWorks movie, I’m not going to make a bunch of Trump jokes. If a Tom Cruise actioner comes out, I’m not going to make a bunch of Scientology cracks. You get the idea. I want for this to be kept fun and simple.

So, without any further discussion, let’s get into this weekend’s two big new releases, Hustlers and The Goldfinch.


Falling into the “inspired by a true story” (the key word being “inspired”) genre this week is Hustlers, a dramedy headlined by Jennifer Lopez about a bunch of strip club members (not the kind who post comics here) who become con artists against some Wall Street clients. In addition to Lopez, the film also sports Constance Wu, Julia Stiles, and Cardi B (in what is her very first movie).

Hustlers comes to us from STX Entertainment, and there’s a reason I bring that up: if Hustlers isn’t a hit for them, there’s a legitimate chance the fairly new movie studio will die, as they have been facing severe financial difficulties as of late, largely thanks to UglyDolls of all things (we live in a weird world). In fact, things got so bad that STX abruptly delayed the release of Playmobil: The Movie simply because they couldn’t afford to market two different films at once.  Nevertheless, STX is releasing Hustlers on more than 3,000 screens this weekend, which does express some level of confidence.

The good news is that Hustlers is faring surprisingly well with critics (unlike the other new flick of the week, but more on that in a bit), and has been tracking positively for the past few weeks. This is helped, in part, by the involvement of Lopez, even though her recent Second Act (also from STX) failed to make much of an impact on any level. That film, however, didn’t have anything even resembling a marketable concept behind it (“A big box store worker reinvents her life and her life-story and shows Madison Avenue what street smarts can do!”), while Hustlers has the naughty angle going for it, similar to the “bad girl” vibe that was used to push Bad Moms (which was–wait for it–also from STX, and by far their most successful release to date). Look for it to heat up about $21 million.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Go: The premise is fun, and even in stuff like Gigli (you know, the “worst movie ever made” according to the internet circa 2003), Lopez is almost always appealing.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Stay Away: If you haven’t gone to It: Chapter Two yet or want to return to Downton Abbey next week, you might want to save your movie money.

Today’s Lucky Lotto Numbers: $21 million opening; $54 million finish.

The Goldfinch 

Well, this was looking like it might be a hit.

Based on the best-seller of the same name, The Goldfinch had been tracking to be a potential awards contender this year. Then reviews came in, and they are horrendous, with a terrible 30% “rotten” score over at RT at the time I’m writing this. That’s going to hurt a movie of this “caliber” badly, especially since the book is one that’s been pretty widely acclaimed over the years.

Which is a shame, since this does look like a pretty solid mystery drama, even if the trailers provide very little in terms of what the actual plot is (boy has mother, boy loses mother; boy has painting, boy loses painting?). Also, I’d pay money to have Nicole Kidman read me the phone book, so her involvement here doesn’t hurt. But again, reviews are going to kill this one before it even comes out of the gate. Look for a disappointing $9 million debut before it fades from theaters quickly.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Go: The trailers a great, teasing a heartbreaking story about grief and loss. Hell, even the posters for this film are pretty fucking bleak. Also, Nicole Kidman.

Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Stay Away: I don’t normally put much stock in movie reviews, but in terms of box office reception, they are unfortunately going to have a huge impact here.

Today’s Lucky Lotto Numbers: $9 million opening; $25 million finish.

Other fun stuff…

* Perhaps inevitable since it’s about strippers, the marketing for Hustlers is a bit on the pervy side, as everyone involved very much wants to tell you that Lopez learned how to pole dance for the movie.

* I actually got The Goldfinch recently ahead of the film’s release, and it’s more than 700 pages long. Yeah. I’ll be reading it after I go to the movie.

* The internet’s “hatred” of Gigli is so amusing to me, as it bombed horribly yet was named the worst movie of the year by a bunch of people who almost certainly hadn’t watched it, at least as far as IMDB score charts are concerned.

* I’m pretty sure the only STX releases I’ve seen in theaters are Hardcore Henry and UglyDolls, two movies which probably wouldn’t make a very appropriate double feature.

* Though it got clobbered by critics, the 2007 Nicole Kidman thriller The Invasion was pretty good, maintaining a creepy feeling for its brisk running time and providing plenty of solid thrills along the way.

* My love for Nicole Kidman extends to the fact that I’ve watched The Golden Compass multiple times.

* Next week brings us Ad AstraDownton Abbey and another Rambo film, so it will be very interesting to find out which new release emerges victorious amid a very strong crowd for September.

* What will YOU be doing this weekend? Sound off in the comments below!