A Few Best Men opens strong with almost $1.9 million

Australian comedy A Few Best Men raked in almost $1.9 million at the local box office in its opening weekend.

Directed by Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), the film – about a wedding that goes wrong – grossed an impressive $1,834,283 across 235 screens. Opening on Australia Day, the comedy – in third position – posted a screen average of $7805.

Its weekend figures were bigger than last year's two biggest films Red Dog ($1.78 million, 245 screens) and Sanctum ($1.59 million, 252 screens).

Written by Death At A Funeral screenwriter Dean Craig, the Icon-distributed film excited exhibitors last year when it screened at the Australian International Movie Convention. It marked Icon's first local film since Oranges and Sunshine (102 screens) in June, last year. In 2010, Icon distributed South Solitary (36 screens) and Triangle (4 screens), while in 2009 it released Mary And Max (49 screens), Disgrace (24 screens) and Blessed (15 screens).

"Stephan set out to make a film to entertain an audience and give them a good time at the movies," Icon's chief executive, Mark Gooder, said in a statement.

"The box office result over the weekend and the incredibly enthusiastic reaction in cinemas with people applauding the laughs tells us that A Few Best Men is going to stay around for a while."

Actors Xavier Samuel (Twilight: Eclipse), Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids), Kris Marshall (Death At A Funeral), Kevin Bishop (The Kevin Bishop Show) and Olivia Newton-John (Grease) make up the cast.

The film, touted as an “Australian version of The Hangover”, marks Elliott’s return to his home country after living in the UK for almost two decades.

In a statement today, Elliott added: “I left a depressed Europe, came back to Australia and just wanted to make people laugh. And our big silly ode to the late Blake Edwards looks like it's made a lot of people happy this weekend".

It was the second Australian film to be shot on the digital, high-end ARRI ALEXA and the first to use the camera’s RAW uncompressed data. To view the trailer, click here.

In other box office news, Underworld: Awakening opened at number one for Sony Pictures, grossing $2.7 million across 214 screens. This marked the largest opening for an Underworld film (after Underworld, Evolution and Rise of the Lycans opened at $2 million or below). The fourth in the franchise, the film stars Kate Beckinsale who reprises her role in the series.

Award-winning film The Descendants continued its strong run at the local box office, taking in $2.4 million across 224 screens. This was down just 1 per cent from last weekend, which rose from strong critical reception and two Golden Globes, including Best Drama and Best Dramatic Actor (George Clooney).

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Michael Caine, moved from second to fourth place in its second weekend, grossing $1.8 million for Warner Bros.

Hugo, from iconic director Martin Scorsese, finished in fifth place, after adding a further $1.5 million from 299 screens after three weeks. J. Edgar, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, opened at number 11 for Warner Bros, grossing $763,175 across 90 screens.

Animated film Happy Feet Two is still showing on 139 screens after five weeks. On the weekend, the sequel to the 2006 Oscar-winning film made $208,794, giving it a screen average of $1502. This was down 43 per cent on last weekend’s $365,090.

In limited releases, Agneepath opened with $279,001 from just 14 screens – giving it a phenomenal screen average of just under $20,000. The Indian-Hindi action thriller, distributed by Eros Australia, is a remake of the 1990 film of the same name.

Films opening this week include Chronicle, Man on a Ledge (starring Sam Worthington), The Artist and Martha Marcy May Marlene.

Australian films at the box office: 2012