We’ve talked A LOT about Don’t Worry Darling the past couple months. More than we’ve talked about any other movie this year, that’s for sure! A lot of people have. But will all that chatter translate to financial success??
Being “the movie everyone’s talking about” seems like what any studio would want, but Warner Bros can’t be totally happy with the tenor of the conversation surrounding the domestic thriller, right? The discussions have mostly been about the rumored feud between Olivia Wilde and Florence Pugh. A director and a lead fighting isn’t exactly the type of thing that breeds confidence. And it only gets worse when you dig into that quarrel…
It’s hard to say for sure what caused the rift (technically we can’t even confirm there is one but come on). Sources have claimed Florence was upset about Olivia’s relationship with Harry Styles, partially because they say she was cheating on Jason Sudeikis — who, according to these claims was very much still in the picture and visiting her on set at the time. Other sources from set have claimed Florence wasn’t alone in feeling the filmmaker was being unprofessional and wasting everyone’s time, as she and Harry were often late to set together. We got even more corroboration of that claim on Friday, as a source told Vulture “Olivia and Harry would just disappear.”
Related: Olivia Denies She Left Jason Sudeikis For Harry Styles
That insider also says the stories of a “tense” convo between Olivia and Florence on set is true, except it was actually more of a “screaming match”! The alleged scrap happened in January 2021 — the same month Olivia went public with Harry, breaking the film’s COVID safety protocols to attend a wedding.
Vulture‘s source adds that the fight escalated to the top of Warner Bros as then-chairman Toby Emmerich had to “referee”! That might explain why Florence didn’t have to do any press for the movie — something that’s basically unheard of in Hollywood. It sounds like the “long negotiation process” ended with her promising not to say anything bad — but being allowed to skip everything but the Venice premiere??
That silence spoke volumes, however. People noticed the feud, and it’s only spiraled more out of control ever since. Chris Pine not only skipped the NYC premiere, he last-minute ditched a scheduled Jimmy Kimmel Live appearance this week. That’s all after the awkwardness of “Spitgate,” which we aren’t even going to get into. And of course Shia LaBeouf took the opportunity to take the upper hand in his own feud with Wilde. He denied the version of events she’s been trading on, that she fired him to protect Florence. He even released a video message she’d sent asking him to come back to the movie — in which she disdainfully referred to Florence as “Miss Flo.”
Olivia has said the video was “taken out of context” and whether she fired Shia or he quit is “semantics.” (Hilariously, Pugh’s team had shirts made with “Miss Flo” printed on them. There’s silence, and then there’s silence.) For what it’s worth, Miss Flo finally did post about the film on the day of its release, writing on Instagram:
“Thank you to all those who have bought tickets and those who have already seen it – whenever I watch massive impressive movie moments on massive screens I always remind myself that there is a boom just inches from the frame I’m watching. Or marks on the floor just below the actors waists. It’s crazy to think that each set up and scene takes a large portion of a day to execute, and on this one.. there was a lot to execute! Explosions, car chases, cocktail balancing, underwater sequences, running, drinking, more running.. This film was such an epic story on such a large scale to shoot, all while during peak Covid times. For that I will always be grateful. To all of you who helped make this, your dedication and love was seen daily – thank you.”
OK, so that’s honestly just a taste of the controversy. But as everyone is talking about the film, is everyone going to see it or not??
One executive from a rival studio told Vulture early box office predictions have been “schizophrenic,” with another studio higher-up agreeing it’s “all over the place.” Market research seen by the outlet showed expectations going from a $16 mil premiere to $20, back down to $16, back up to $18. AMC put their guess at $27 million based on presales, according to Deadline! However, those presales have taken a hit lately. They actually went down this week — when ordinarily those spike in the days just before a film’s release as people finally know their schedules and can book a movie a day or two in advance. This week, however, it’s looking worse. That ridiculous-looking horror movie Smile even surpassed it on metrics of audience awareness.
One of the outlet’s executive sources said of the volatility:
“I’ve never seen tracking go up and down so much. They went up three points of interest, lost five points of interest. Now they’re, like, nowhere. They’ve got young girls excited because of Harry Styles, and that’s it. Their campaign keeps changing: ‘It’s a thriller!’ No, just kidding. ‘It’s a romantic drama!’ ‘It’s this. It’s that!’ Kim Kardashian liked it on Instagram. The audience is like, ‘What the f**k is going on?’”
If the Morbius debacle taught us anything, it’s that studios have a really hard time distinguishing between morbid fascination with a film and legitimate interest. (For those who don’t know, Sony saw everyone talking about the movie on Twitter and mistook their dunking on it sarcastically for actual interest — and RE-RELEASED it. It’s maybe the only movie in history to flop twice.) As a source close to the Don’t Worry Darling production told Vulture:
“Olivia is either a mad genius who figured out a way to make people more aware of the movie in a way that just drives up the box office, or she doesn’t have any self-awareness that she is f**king up her movie.”
Warners certainly seem to be of the latter opinion. According to the outlet’s WB source, they are NOT happy with how the director has handled all the drama. She certainly hasn’t done herself any favors — for a lot of observers she’s gone from looking like Tinseltown’s most promising new director and a feminist hero to yet another Hollywood phony.
At the end of the day, plenty of folks with questionable reputations make movies people want to go see. If it’s good, you can hardly argue with it, right? Well… As of this writing the flick hasn’t emerged from all the dirt smelling like a rose. It’s a rotten 37% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 47/100 on Metacritic. Not encouraging for a movie whose selling point is supposed to be how deep and meaningful it is — not just cars and ‘splosions. Bad reviews KILL movies like this. Just ask The Goldfinch. Oh right, you can’t, because it died with a whimper of a box office opening and was erased from existence.
You know who doesn’t care about any of that and is happy to plug the film? The proudest mom in the whole wide world — Anne Twist.
Yep, Harry Styles’ mum is as proud as ever after having seen the film. She posted pics outside the movie theater on Wednesday, writing:
“First time in the French cinema .. first day showing .. ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ you were excellent! Really enjoyed from start to finish. Well done @oliviawilde and team for drawing us in, well done baby @harrystyles for being a fabulous Jack. Very proud as usual”
Aw! Momma even brought friends! She complimented “Baby” Harry AND his lady love Olivia (who liked the post btw). Can’t help but notice she didn’t mention the film’s lead Florence Pugh… NOPE! No. Not doing it. Not dragging Harry’s mum into the drama! LOLz!
Speaking of which, Anne apparently got an earful from folks on IG about it. Responding to commenters who were hating on her sweet movie message en masse, she posted to her IG Stories on Thursday:
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Isn’t that Florence’s tactic as well? Ha! Anne added:
“I’m astounded and saddened by the vitriolic comments on here to be honest. I enjoyed a film. If it’s not your cup of tea don’t go…”
She added with the proper proportions of Brit mom sass and class:
“If you don’t like me .. please don’t follow me. Simple.”
Obviously for a lot of people all the controversy won’t affect them one way or the other. But once you get past Harry’s family, what’s going to happen? LOLz! Kidding!
Thursday night (with Monday’s preview screenings added in), the film has already taken in $3.1 mil, according to Deadline. That’s a good start!
What about YOU, Perezcious cinephiles? Are you going to see Don’t Worry Darling after all the ado? Let us know in the comments (below)!
[Image via Anne Twist/Instagram/MEGA/WENN/Warner Bros/YouTube.]