Two new major releases in A Quiet Place Part II and Cruella helped to breathe life back into the box office last weekend, though results were stymied by the closure of cinemas across Victoria.
Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II was one of the first films to be delayed by the pandemic. Some 14 months later than planned, the John Krasinski-helmed sequel premiered ahead of the 2018 original, topping the box office with $3.1 million from 542 screens. With previews from the previous weekend, it sits on highly respectable $5.2 million.
In the US, where it is Memorial Day weekend, the horror, starring Emily Blunt, Krasinski, Cillian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe is expected to post $58 million by Monday.
Despite a simultaneous PVOD release on Disney+, Cruella, starring Emma Stone in the titular role, still drew a respectable crowd for the Mouse House, bowing at no. 2 from $1.5 million from 452, or $1.6 million with previews.
There is a strong Aussie contingent behind the de Vil origin story, including the director Craig Gillespie, writer Tony McNamara (with Dana Fox, from a story by Aline Brosh McKenna, Kelly Marcel and Steve Zissis) and production designer Fiona Crombie.
Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell was pleased to see the two films draw a crowd. “For us, they were mostly neck and neck, with Cruella actually doing better than AQP2 at some sites, which is a bit different to the national numbers.”
The duo were also the top film performers at Sydney’s Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace.
“Neither film is our typical bread and butter film but they clearly benefited from being high profile and commercial releases, and both have strong reviews,” GM Alex Temesvari tells IF.
The other new release for the weekend was local documentary My Name Is Gulpilil. Directed by Molly Reynolds and distributed by ABCG Films, it sees Australian screen legend David Gulpilil, who has terminal lung cancer, tell his story in his own words.
With exhibitors reporting strong WOM, the film opened on $45,338 from 45; the fifth highest screen average of the week at $1,008 per screen. With the Adelaide Festival opening and preview screenings, its cume is $155K.
Perth’s Luna Leederville and Luna On SX were the country’s two top performing sites.
“Perth audiences have always had a special connection to David Gulpilil, Molly Reynolds and Rolf de Heer’s films and we at Luna Palace Cinemas have always championed their work because we love it so much,” Luna Palace managing director Ingrid van den Berghe tells IF.
“My Name is Gulpilil is a beautiful documentary, heartfelt and funny; it is a perfect film to watch during these strange times and we think it will do well for weeks to come.”
Dell adds it was a good performer for him in regional NSW. “My Name is Gulpilil had a good opening as well at a number of sites, with great word of mouth. It was ably supported by another successful Aussie movie in June Again which continues to do well for us.”
Significant new product on the market meant the blow to Victorian exhibitors was particularly painful. The state typically generates around 26 per cent of national takings, and for cinemas in Melbourne, it is the fourth shutdown since the pandemic began.
With the vast majority of Village Cinemas sites in Victoria, national programming manger Geoff Chard tells IF: “What made it all the more frustrating was that we had four weeks of relatively lean product, and we finally were at a point with two major films releasing and we had to close.
“At the handful of sites that were permitted to trade, nearly 75 per cent of our total box office was attributed to A Quiet Place Part II and Cruella.
“All we can do here in Victoria now is hope that the government manages to contain the current outbreak, and that we’re able to recommence trading as quickly as possible.”
Kristian Connelly, CEO of Melbourne’s Cinema Nova, says the lack of expanded quarantine facilities and slow vaccine roll out has led to a feeling that public safety and the ability of local businesses to trade are not being taken seriously.
“News of the outstanding opening of A Quiet Place Part II in the USA this weekend reinforces the trend seen with the successful local results for Godzilla Vs Kong and Peter Rabbit 2 over the Easter school holidays; that audiences are excited about returning to the cinema.
“The local cause for pause, however, is the sluggish vaccine roll-out. It is so disappointing for not just cinemas, but also major and independent distributors to be dealt a blow by the Victorian lockdown. Particularly as My Name Is Gulpilil was poised to be a major event in recognising Reconciliation Week.”
According to Numero, the top 20 titles garnered $6.4 million, up 9 per cent on the previous (once A Quiet Place Part II previews were factored in).
In third place was Studiocanal’s Wrath of Man, which garnered $401,721 in its fifth week to move to move to $6.6 million.
WB’s Those Who Wish Me Dead, now in its third frame, moved to $2.8 million after collecting $324,692.
The highest grossing Aussie title of the year, UK co-production Peter Rabbit 2, is just shy of the $21 million mark after collecting $166,070 in its tenth for Sony.
Fellow local title, JJ Winlove’s June Again, has crossed $2 million after four weeks for Studiocanal, with the weekend tally coming in at $152,613.
Spiral: From The Book Of Saw tumbled 66 per cent in its third with takings of $126,019. The Chris Rock-starrer now sits on $1.6 million.
A trio of WB titles close out the top 10, with Tom and Jerry now on $10.5 million after eight weeks with earnings of $110,739; Mortal Kombat on $9.2 million after six with $84,649 and Godzilla vs. Kong $27.8 million after 10 with $61,821.