Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling got tangled in controversies right from the start. This Warner Bros. production stars Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, and Nick Kroll amongst others. And it seems like every name you utter, there is a controversy following them; whether it’s the director or the lead couple, no one is spared.
A 1950s utopian storyline follows Pugh’s Alice and Styles’ Jack, who move to a suburban town of Victory, built and created by Pine’s Frank. This mystery thriller follows Pugh’s character who goes from a happy step ford wife to a suspicious woman terrified of her own home. And while the premise of the movie looks quite interesting, it is what’s happening outside the storyline of it, that has gained much more momentum.
Don’t Worry Darling: A Movie Shrouded in Controversies
First, it was the casting of Shia LaBeouf for the character of Jack that got a lot of attention, and not all good, given the actor was going through a lot of negative publicity at the time. Then we were told that LaBeouf had been fired by the director, and in his stead pop star, Harry Styles had been cast. And though the replacement was not an issue, the fact that Wilde made statements about how she fired the Transformers actor because of his problematic nature got people talking. Even more when LaBeouf came with receipts to claim her statements false, saying he left the movie on his own accord.
Wilde got a lot of flak for the whole incident, with audiences claiming her to be a pseudo-feminist. Her initial statement was that LaBeouf was fired to keep a safe environment for her actors, especially pointed to Florence Pugh. After it was revealed that was not the case, and she even begged the actor to not leave the project, things took a turn for the worst. Meanwhile, another drama was brewing, this time between the director, again, and her leading lady.
For a while now, headlines have been making the rounds about an ongoing feud between the two ladies of the film. It went as far as Pugh not even attending any of the press meets. And while that very well may be due to scheduling conflicts, fans seem to think otherwise. The fact that Pugh apparently refused to make any eye contact with the director throughout the whole premiere shindig during Venezia, only managed to add more fuel to the fire. And let’s not even get started on #SpitStage, which thankfully got squashed before it could turn into another big mess.
According to rumors, Pugh was not happy with the relationship between Olivia Wilde and Harry Styles. Wilde was still with actor Jason Sudeikis when the movie started filming, the actor even used to visit the sets along with their two children. That obviously stopped when the director got entangled with her leading man, and Pugh was not too happy with the situation. Things like unfair and unequal relationship dynamics, something about the wage gap, and of course, the sexualization of the movie (which we already saw from the audience’s reaction to the movie trailer) made a lot of news.
Will It Be Yet Another Warner Bros. Nightmare?
Don’t Worry Darling is Olivia Wilde’s second directorial venture. Her first movie Booksmart was released in 2019, which while critically acclaimed, did not do well at the box office. This movie though has all the ingredients needed to make it a box office hit. An intriguing premise, and a spectacular star cast, which was only added to by Harry Styles’ major fan following, and all the controversies. After all, like the industry says, all publicity is good publicity.
But with the year Warner Bros. has been having, maybe saying that is a little too out there. Warner Bros. and controversies have been going hand in hand since the year started, *cough* Ezra Miller *cough* Amber Heard *cough*! Now with the way the movie and its press tour are being perused by the media, and the way almost every name from the cast has become tabloid fodder, it’s safe to say, things could go either way.
The good thing is, Don’t Worry Darling is a small-budget movie, so it’s not going to make much difference in the earnings department. It might actually do much better than expected, given its cast – which alone will pull a lot of audiences. And if that falls short, many will go to watch the movie just to see what all the fuss has been about. It’s the critical response, the movie has to look forward to.
After the recent Venice Film Festival premiere of the movie, even with the standing ovation it got, reviews have been quite the mixed bag of beans. Critics and reviewers did not have a lot of positive responses, other than praising Florence Pugh for being the standout performer. But I guess the thing to do would be to watch the movie ourselves and form an opinion later, regardless of all the rumors flying around.
While a small budget movie like Don’t Worry Darling, in any way, could not sink a giant like Warner Bros. it does have the potential to push the studio into a further PR nightmare, more than it already has. With The Flash already doing its fair share of damage to the studios’ reputation, this might not be the best thing for Warner Bros.’s future.
Don’t Worry Darling will be out in theatres on September 23, 2022.