By Cristian Reyes, Oct. 4, 2022
The film, “Don’t Worry Darling,” hit theaters Sept. 23 with immense anticipation from moviegoers due to the social media buzz created by the cast of the film weeks before the film’s release.
The film has a star-studded cast with stars such as Chris Pine, Nick Kroll, Gemma Chan and Olivia Wilde. This had people eager to watch, but the film’s added conflict and social media buzz helped boost the film to higher profit margins.
According to the Associated Press , the film topped the box office in its opening weekend by making almost $20 million, already more than half of the budget the film at $35 million.
As an avid movie goer myself, I find myself looking at all the elements of a film such as trailers, cast and genre to get a sense of what movies I anticipate watching. “Don’t Worry Darling” had it all: a talented lead actress, a suspenseful story and behind-the-scenes drama.
“Don’t Worry Darling” stars emerging actress Florence Pugh and acclaimed singer Harry Styles. The pair depict a married couple living a perfect life in the 1950s, but Pugh’s character comes to the realization that something about her life is off. With such a well-known cast and a popular singer, this is a sign of this film’s monetary intent, which was to capitalize on a low budget with prominent names.
A study by Krushikanth R. Apala and others called “Prediction of Movies Box Office Performance Using Social Media,” used patterns such as the lead actress, genre and sequels to determine a movie’s success in the box office. If a film had an unfamiliar lead actor or was not a popular genre, the movie could be a flop.
Randy Nelson and Robert Glodfelty in their journal article, “Movie stars and box office revenues: an empirical analysis”, found that replacing actors with three more popular actors could lead to a 49 million dollar increase in revenue.
Filming began in September 2020, and this is when the first set of drama came out. “Ted Lasso” star, Jason Sudeikis, boyfriend and father to her two children, split up with Wilde in November 2020. This sounds like any other Hollywood breakup, but a couple months later Wilde and Styles were holding hands while filming was ongoing. Wilde was then handed custody papers on stage during her presentation of the film at CinemaCon in April 2022.
This type of drama is standard in the film industry and Hollywood, yet the media is always intrigued by it. Evie Magazine writer Mane Kara-Yakoubian wrote an article called “The Scientific Reason Why We’re Obsessed With Celebrity Drama” that goes into detail why we are so interested in celebrity drama.
“Some psychologists suggest that gossip is the ‘glue that binds social groups together’ or a mechanism for connecting with one another, suggesting it might be an evolutionary adaptation.”
I usually catch myself talking with friends by gossiping about some random celebrity drama, and it’s always an icebreaker to break the silence. It helps us not focus on our everyday life and look at somebody else’s drama and either laugh about it or feel guilty about it with no repercussions.
Not only was one of the most popular singers, Harry Styles, in the world caught in a love affair, but he was also going to star in the film directed by the person he had said affair with. This alone was enough to create a buzz online, but more was to come from the film’s other stars.
This love affair might have agitated lead actress Pugh, as she went from praising Wilde and the film, to hardly mentioning the film on any of her social media accounts before the film’s release. This then led to her quote that might have started the speculation of tension between her and Wilde. “When it’s reduced to your sex scenes or to watch the most famous man in the world go down on someone, it’s not why we do it. It’s not why I’m in this industry,” said Pugh.
The incidents sparked tons of media attention to for the film, resulting in free advertising the film. Movie companies nowadays heavily rely on social media for advertisement, making Instagram and Twitter accounts just to gain more attention.
In the article, “Beyond likes and tweets: Consumer engagement behavior and movie box office in social media,” Chong Oh and others researched social media’s impact on box office success. The authors concluded that social media plays a crucial role in gross revenue for films, and movie companies should optimize social media to their advantage.
“Don’t Worry Darling” is on its way to make a profit after a strong opening weekend. Drama, intentional or not, has helped the film make its rounds throughout social media and kept it in the media spotlight plenty of times ahead of its release. The success of this film can lead studios in the future to fabricate or force drama online to gain more money in the box office.
Social media attention combined with star power had an immense positive effect on the film’s monetary success. It does not matter if the film is top tier, people will buy tickets for the film because of the social media impact all the drama created.
Feature image by Jackson Gray
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