Mental posts less-than-expected opening weekend at box office

08 October, 2012 by Brendan Swift

PJ Hogan’s Mental has posted a less-than-expected opening weekend at the box office, grossing just over $1 million.

The Australian film opened in sixth position after taking $1.09 million across 269 screens for a screen average of $4074 (including previews the film has grossed $1.58 million in total). The film reunited Hogan with Muriel's Wedding star Toni Collette, this time playing foul-mouthed Shaz who joins the fractured Moochmore family who believe their problems stem from mental illness.

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Mental is one of the few Australian films distributed by Universal and the distributor’s local boss, Mike Baard, has been a major supporter of the film since script stage.

However, the film’s unique mix of drama and comedy – as well as its MA15+ rating largely due to language – has made it a difficult sell. By contrast, abysmal (yet predictable) Liam Neeson sequel Taken 2 opened in first position at the box office for Fox, grossing an impressive $7.64 million across 246 screens (for an astounding screen average of $31,091).

Mental’s opening weekend box office has outperformed just three other local wide releases over the past year: Bait 3D ($365,187 across 283 screens), Killer Elite ($284,226 across 108 screens) and Any Questions For Ben? ($608,731 across 235 screens).

However, other recent Australian releases this year: The Sapphires, A Few Best Men, Kath & Kimderella (which were all released on 200+ screens) grossed between $1.8-$2.3 million on their opening weekends.

As is often the case with Australian films, positive word-of-mouth now looms as a key test as to whether Mental can make up for its opening weekend underperformance.

While predictable Hollywood box office fodder such as Taken 2 can be expected to drop by 50 per cent in its second weekend, positive word of mouth could stem such a fall for Mental, or as has happened in rare cases, prompt a rise, which occured with previous local hits Red Dog and Kenny.

Contact this reporter at bswift@if.com.au or on Twitter at @bcswift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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