Jennifer Lopez shines but cannot stop Pennywise the clown from topping box office

Cinema still from the film Hustlers.
Cinema still from the film Hustlers.PHOTO: AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) - It was not quite enough to take down Pennywise the clown, but Jennifer Lopez and the scheming strippers of Hustlers topped even the high expectations they brought to the weekend box office.

It: Chapter Two brought in US$40.7 million (S$56 million) in the United States and Canada to keep the top spot in its second week, and has earned a total of US$153.8 million.

The original, the biggest September release ever, took in more than US$200 million at the same point two years ago.

Hustlers, riding stellar reviews, film-festival buzz and Oscar talk for Lopez, pocketed US$33.2 million, a record for a film from STX Entertainment, which was launched less than five years ago.

The film, budgeted at just US$20 million, became the rare recent hit that was neither a sequel nor a reboot nor part of a series.

It was also the biggest opening ever for a live-action Lopez film, and had numbers comparable to co-star Constance Wu's hit Crazy Rich Asians, whose long-term box office success could be a model for Hustlers.

"This is exactly the kind of movie that every studio dreams of producing, because it's going to be profitable, prestigious and a long-term performer," said Mr Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore.

"A lot of original type movies that are non-franchise non-sequels, many of them have had a rough go this year. This is a nice counter-balance to that."

Hustlers tells the true story of a group of New York strippers who, put out by the recession's effects on their patrons, start a side con that involves drugging their wealthy marks and running up exorbitant credit card bills that they get a cut of.

Even with its buzz, industry projections had the film making about US$25 million over the weekend, but it appealed to an even wider audience than expected.

Angel Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler, was a distant third with US$4.4 million, and has brought in US$60.4 million in its four weeks of release.