Darren Aronofsky's 'mother!' banished to infamous F CinemaScore club

Paramount always knew that Darren Aronofsky's mother!, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, would provoke strong responses, but the studio surely never imagined the elevated psychological horror-thriller would receive an F CinemaScore from U.S. moviegoers.

Only a dozen or so movies have been slapped with the failing grade in modern times. In most cases, those films, hobbled by poor word of mouth, were never able to bust out of detention and clear more than $15 million, if that, at the domestic box office. The most notable exception is fellow Paramount horror pic The Devil Inside (2012), which opened to $33.7 million on its way to topping out at $53.3 million in North America and $101.8 million globally.

mother! received the grade on Friday as it opened in theaters across North America after making high-profile stops at the Venice and Toronto film festivals. It opened to a dismal $7.5 million from 2,368 theaters, the worst wide launch of Lawrence's career.

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Jennifer Lawrence at 'mother!' premieres
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Jennifer Lawrence at 'mother!' premieres
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends 'mother!' New York Premiere at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends 'mother!' New York Premiere at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends 'mother!' New York Premiere at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the premiere of 'mother!' at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the premiere of 'mother!' at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 10: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the 'mother!' premiere during the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 10, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by J. Merritt/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 10: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the 'mother!' premiere during the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 10, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by J. Merritt/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 10: Jennifer Lawrence on the carpet. ED NOTE: THE DISTORTIONS ARE CAUSED BY MULTIPLE FLASH CAPTURE, AND SOME CAMERA MOVEMENT). TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) red carpet outside Princess of Wales theatre for the screening of MOTHER, directed by Darren Aronofsky and cast including Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem and Ed Harris. Toronto Star/Rick Madonik (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 10: Jennifer Lawrence attends the 'mother!' premiere during the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 10, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 07: Jennifer Lawrence attends the French Premiere of 'mother!' at Cinema UGC Normandie on September 7, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Kristy Sparow/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)
PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 07: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the French Premiere of 'mother!' at Cinema UGC Normandie on September 7, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 07: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the French Premiere of 'mother!' at Cinema UGC Normandie on September 7, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 07: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the French Premiere of 'mother!' at Cinema UGC Normandie on September 7, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: Jennifer Lawrence attends the UK Premiere of 'Mother!' at the Odeon Leicester Square on September 6, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: Jennifer Lawrence attends the 'Mother!' UK premiere at Odeon Leicester Square on September 6, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Fred Duval/FilmMagic)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: Jennifer Lawrence attends the 'Mother!' UK premiere at Odeon Leicester Square on September 6, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: Jennifer Lawrence attends the 'Mother!' UK premiere at Odeon Leicester Square on September 6, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: Jennifer Lawrence attends the 'Mother!' UK premiere at Odeon Leicester Square on September 6, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: Jennifer Lawrence attends the 'Mother!' UK premiere at Odeon Leicester Square on September 6, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: Jennifer Lawrence attends the UK Premiere of 'mother!' at the Odeon Leicester Square on September 6, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: Jennifer Lawrence attends the 'Mother!' UK premiere at Odeon Leicester Square on September 6, 2017 in London, England.(Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images.
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 06: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the UK film premiere of Mother! in London, England on September 06, 2017. (Photo by Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: Jennifer Lawrence attends the 'Mother!' UK premiere at Odeon Leicester Square on September 6, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 05: Jennifer Lawrence walks the red carpet ahead of the 'mother!' screening during the 74th Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on September 5, 2017 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 05: Jennifer Lawrence, hair detail, walks the red carpet ahead of the 'mother!' screening during the 74th Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on September 5, 2017 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 05: Jennifer Lawrence walks the red carpet ahead of the 'mother!' screening during the 74th Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on September 5, 2017 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 05: Jennifer Lawrence walks the red carpet ahead of the 'mother!' screening during the 74th Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on September 5, 2017 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Jennifer Lawrence attends the Gala Screening and World Premiere of 'mother!' during the 74th Venice Film Festival on September 5, 2017 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Matteo Chinellato/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 05: Jennifer Lawrence walk the red carpet ahead of the 'mother!' screening during the 74th Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on September 5, 2017 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Elisabetta A. Villa/WireImage)
VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 05: Jennifer Lawrence walks the red carpet ahead of the 'mother!' screening during the 74th Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on September 5, 2017 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Stefania D'Alessandro/WireImage)
VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 05: Jennifer Lawrence walks the red carpet ahead of the 'mother!' screening during the 74th Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on September 5, 2017 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Stefania D'Alessandro/WireImage)
VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 05: Jennifer Lawrence walks the red carpet ahead of the 'mother!' screening during the 74th Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on September 5, 2017 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage)
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While mother! has divided critics, there were enough good reviews to garner the $30 million movie a 68 percent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Over the weekend, some in Hollywood questioned the disparity between the pic's Rotten Tomatoes ranking and the CinemaScore.

"This is an interesting case of what appears to be a total disconnect between the critics, who have been fairly receptive, and audiences who are collectively giving mother! their unanimous seal of disapproval with some of the lowest audience scores seen for a wide release film," said comScore's Paul Dergarabedian, whose firm also conducts exit polling. "The trailer paints a very strange and purposely equivocal portrait of the film and audiences who may have been expecting one type of movie-going experience got something quite different and have chosen to scold the film with a stunningly low approval rating."

A number of the releases garnering an F grade have made up some ground offshore, and mother! hopes to to do the same. Killing Them Softly (2012), starring Brad Pitt, opened to $6.8 million before topping out at a forgettable $15 million domestically. The crime-thriller did more business overseas, grossing $22.9 million abroad for a global total of $37.9 million. The Box (2009), starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, earned $15.1 million domestically and $33.3 million worldwide.

Aronofsky isn't the first acclaimed director to see one of his films sent to the back of the class. William Friedkin's horror pic Bug (2007); Steven Soderbergh's Solaris (2002), starring George Clooney; and Robert Altman's romantic ensemble comedy Dr. T and the Women (2000) also garnered an F.

Like mother!, The Box and Bug, most movies targeted for the F CinemaScore club are horror titles. Horror tends to score lower grades than other genres yet still succeed (almost all of Paramount's Paranormal Activity films received some variation of a C CinemaScore). Exceptions to this rule include Jordan Peele's 2017 hit Get Out and both Conjuring films, all of which scared up an A-.

Then there's It. The film adaptation of Stephen King's novel has become a box-office sensation, boasting the biggest opening of all time for a horror film with $123.4 million. By Sunday, the pic's 10-day domestic cume will approach $220 million, already making it the most successful September release of all time. Usually, a film doing this sort of business would carry an A grade. It's CinemaScore is a B+.

Other films in the F CinemaScore club include Silent House (2012), Disaster Movie (2005), Wolf Creek (2005) and Darkness (2004).

Sept. 17, 9:30 a.m.: Updated with weekend grosses and revised Rotten Tomatoes score.

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