‘The Call of the Wild.’

In a lousy weekend at Australian cinemas, the combination of Harrison Ford and a bionic dog in The Call of the Wild proved unappealing, while a long-delayed historical drama which Mel Gibson had virtually disowned was an abject failure.

Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning Parasite was among the few bright spots, ringing up $653,000 on 135 screens, now in week 35, delivering $4.7 million for Madman Entertainment.

The top 20 titles generated $10.8 million, 32 per cent down on the previous frame, according to Numero.

Paramount’s live action/CGI adaptation of the Sega videogame Sonic the Hedgehog won the weekend virtually by default.

The feature debut of director Jeff Fowler, the adventure comedy raked in nearly $2.8 million, dropping by a reasonable 28 per cent in its second frame, propelling the total to $7.1 million.

The No 1 title worldwide, the film starring Jim Carrey, James Marsden and the voice of Ben Schwartz has clocked an impressive $106.6 million after 10 days in the US and $96.5 million in the rest of the world.

Warner Bros/DC Comics’ Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is showing wobbly legs, plunging by 54 per cent to $1.2 million in its third outing.

The Cathy Yan-directed superhero movie starring Margot Robbie, Ewan McGregor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Rosie Perez has collected $9.1 million here, a mediocre $72.5 million in the US and $101.2 million internationally.

Released by the Walt Disney Co., 20th Century Studios’ The Call of the Wild fetched $843,000 on 272 screens. Pro-rata, that was well below the $24.8 million US opening for the remake of the classic Jack London novel which marks the live-action feature debut of director Chris Sanders after working on animated films like The Croods and How to Train Your Dragon.

Harrison Ford plays prospector John Thornton, who befriends the CGI-created pooch Buck after he is uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the wilds of the Alaska during the 1890s Gold Rush. Given the reported production budget of $135 million, this dog is all bark and no bite.

On the discrepancy between the US and Australian results, Village Cinemas national programming manager Geoff Chard surmises: “Perhaps the book isn’t as widely known in Australia or perhaps the wilderness themes translate better to an American audience rather than an Australian one.”

Universal/Working Title’s update of Jane Austen’s Emma directed by Autumn de Wilde drew $751,000 in its second frame, off 30 per cent, bringing the total to $2.3 million.

Sam Mendes’ 1917 advanced to $21.6 million after adding $746,000 in its seventh weekend for Universal. The WW1 epic has amassed a lucrative $347.3 million globally.

‘The Professor and the Madman.’

Sony’s blockbuster Bad Boys for Life reached $18.2 million after collaring $506,000 in its sixth. The cop caper starring Smith and Martin Lawrence, co-directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah stands at $390 million worldwide.

Blumhouse/Sony Pictures’ Fantasy Island is sinking fast, taking $464,000 in its second frame and $1.6 million thus far. Still, with $20.6 million in the US, the Jeff Wadlow-directed fantasy/mystery starring Michael Peña as the mysterious Mr. Roarke is well on the way to recouping the $7 million production budget.

Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell, which follows Paul Walter Hauser as the security guard who was falsely accused by the FBI of planting a pipe bomb in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Olympics, staggered along to $1.1 million after scoring $294,000 in its second for WB/Roadshow.

Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen has banked $14.3 million after adding $282,000 in its eighth for Roadshow.

Transmission Films pre-bought Farhad Safinia’s The Professor and the Madman long before Gibson’s Icon Productions and the producer Voltage Pictures sued and counter-sued each other 2017 in a dispute over creative decision-making.

A settlement was reached in April 2019 for the film featuring an encounter between Gibson as self-educated Scottish linguist and scholar James Murray and Sean Penn as Oxford and Yale-trained doctor and war veteran William Chester Minor, who was imprisoned for killing a man he thought was chasing him.

Gibson said: “This was a labour of love for the entire creative team and it is unfortunate for all concerned that this film was never finished as written. The Voltage version of this film is a bitter disappointment to me.”

In light of all that, the Australian opening of $131,000 on 99 screens and $232,000 with festival screenings was no surprise.

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