(CNN) - "Hustlers" may not have taken the top spot at the box office, but it was arguably the weekend's biggest winner.
The film made an estimated $33 million at the North American box office this weekend. That was enough to give the film the No. 2 spot, but more importantly than the film's ranking at the box office, "Hustlers" exceeded industry expectations and its budget. It was projected to make roughly $25 million, according to the film's studio STXfilms. Its production budget was just $20 million.
The film, which stars Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu as strippers who work together to fleece Wall Street brokers, has been gaining buzz since it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month. The film has an 88% score on review site Rotten Tomatoes. The film's audience was 67% female this weekend, according to studio data.
"Hustlers" is the biggest live-action opening for Lopez, according to Comscore. (Lopez's voice work in animated films "Home" and "Ice Age: Continental Drift" had bigger openings.) Some critics have said that Lopez's performance could also garner awards consideration at the Golden Globes and Oscars. She is also a producer on the film.
The film is the best opening for STX Entertainment since the studio launched less than five years ago, it said.
The film's strong performance is also a big win for original films at the box office. While superheroes and sequels have dominated the ticket booth, original hit films -- especially R-rated originals -- have been in short supply so far this year.
"It: Chapter Two," which took the No. 1 spot, made an estimated $40.7 million in its second weekend. The Warner Bros. horror film based on the Stephen King bestseller has so far made $323 million worldwide.
Warner Bros., which like CNN is owned by WarnerMedia, may have won the weekend with "It: Chapter Two," but its latest film, "The Goldfinch," flopped at the box office.
The film, which is based on the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, made only $2.6 million. "The Goldfinch," which stars Ansel Elgort and Nicole Kidman, was widely panned by critics. The film holds a 25% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
The US box office, which is down roughly 6% compared to last year, has held steady since the end of the summer. The rest of the year shows a lot of promise however with potential hits including "Joker," "Frozen 2" and "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" still on the horizon.
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