Will the mounting “Don’t Worry Baby” publicity hurt the box office?

It was one of the most important projects Hollywood has seen in years. Eighteen bidders. Rising director. Florence Pugh, actress of the moment, shoots upwards like a rocket. “do not worry my love“It was set up to be a crush.

But now, the $35 million in production is referred to across town as “Kill your darlings.” Over the past three weeks, the much-anticipated movie has become a spectacle in all the wrong ways, with its director, Olivia WildeSelf-immolation on the propaganda trail. Now all eyes are on the box office as the movie – one of only three from Warner Bros. It is released theatrically during the remainder of the year – it debuted nationally on September 23.

Signs of trouble began to appear in March when Wilde’s personal life became entangled with her promotional efforts onstage in Las Vegas, where her submission for the trailer for “Don’t Worry, Baby” was chosen by a server handler. Bring it with nursery papers From her ex-fiancé, actor “Ted Lasso” Jason Sudeikis.

It escalated into online gossip Pugh’s lack of substantive promotion For the film, which led to reports of a clash between the director and the star over the rumored relationship between Wilde and Harry Styles, the pop star in his first major movie role. (Wild refused to discuss the rumors other than saying it Vanity Fair that the stories she left for Sudeikis for Styles were “totally inaccurate.”) Things escalated when Wilde said diverse She fired Shia LaBeouf, the first actor to play the role that eventually went to Styles, just to have her LaBeouf doubts her account With both audio and visual evidence supporting his claim that he resigned.

The saga reached its climax this month at A tense press conference At the Venice Film Festival, which Poe did not attend. When asked about the controversy, Wilde replied succinctly: “The internet feeds itself. I don’t feel the need to contribute. I think it feeds enough.”

Wilde declined to comment for this article, and canceled a long-scheduled interview last week just hours before it was due. Pugh’s representative also declined to comment.

This scandal ranks fairly low on the Hollywood outrage scale. Stephen GallowayD., dean of Chapman University’s Dodge School of Film and Media and author of “Really, Madly,” the story of the stormy romance between Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, called it a “messy fling.” But the “Don’t Worry Baby” attitude is high enough that it could have the potential to dampen the excitement about Wilde’s potential rise as a bright new directing talent in Hollywood.

The film centers on Alice and Jack (Pugh and Styles), a married couple in a wild love whose idealistic 1950s existence contrasts with a much sinister reality. Originally designed by Carrie and Shane Van Dyke (Descendants of Dick Van Dyke) in script shown on Black list, A compendium of the year’s best unproductive screenplay, “Don’t Worry Baby” was rewritten by Katie Silberman (Wild’s “Booksmart”). It became the subject of a bidding war, as the New Line division of Warner Bros. He won the title thanks to his commitment to the theatrical release of the film.

Now “Don’t Worry, Baby,” which is set to premiere in more than 2,000 theaters, is in danger of falling. Based on pre-release surveys that track consumer interest, box office experts predicted nearly $20 million in opening weekend ticket sales. In recent days, those estimates have fallen to about $18 million. Surveys have shown that ticket sales could reach $16 million. Warner Bros. declined. Comment on box office expectations But a studio insider who was not allowed to speak officially said he had always expected about $18 million and that interest has not changed.

Early reviews weren’t nice. Rotten Tomatoes has the movie currently hovering at 38 degree percent, frankly in the rotten category. Several critics mentioned the scandal surrounding the film. Critic Justin Chang in the Los Angeles Times he asked What if Alice “could be a more appropriate position for Wilde, a talented filmmaker trying to break out of a misogynistic system, one who wouldn’t blink twice in the face of a filmmaker in the same situation?”

Is the reaction to the tabloid controversy one of misogyny at work, as Zhang suggested? Male directors, after all, have a long history of standing up to the press and getting involved in specific affairs. Or will this become a case of Hollywood adding Wilde, daughter of journalists and documentarians Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, to the list of The Very Short of Life, implying that this episode would overshadow her talent? Some question, given the feud with Pugh and her feud with LaBeouf, whether the talent would want to work with Wilde in the future.

“There is a certain degree of sexism in this,” Galloway said. “Male directors have done this for decades and got rid of it. A director does it and she explodes. It’s unfair. On the other hand, what I did is wrong, just as it was wrong for all male directors to act like male chauvinistic pigs. Part of me feels bad because the judgment On it to a different standard. Part of me says, “There’s a modern standard that we should all stick to.”

What’s next for Wilde isn’t clear. “Don’t Worry Baby” was to be followed with “Perfect” about gymnast Keri Strug. But according to three people familiar with the project who were granted anonymity to discuss its condition, Wilde abandoned the film after ordering multiple rewrites from different screenwriters before moving away, believing the script was still not ready for production.

“It became clear to me that this year was a time to be a stay-at-home mom,” she told Variety. “This hasn’t been the year for me to be on set, which is totally all-encompassing.”

It has two projects in early development: a new Marvel movie, which two people involved have said was “Spider-Woman,” and an untitled holiday comedy that Universal Pictures has been in business since 2019.

Some believe that the attention generated by the scandal could attract more moviegoers to theaters, following the adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Joe Quenkwu, veteran executive director of strategic communications said.

Warner Bros. continues. its original marketing strategy. The studio announced last week that the Sept. 19 IMAX Experience, which will include a screening of the film and a live question-and-answer session at 100 locations across the country, is the fastest-selling live event in IMAX history.

Wilde will be present. Won’t boog.

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