Kriv Stenders' 'Lee Kernaghan: Boy From the Bush'.

After a noisy few months at the box office, last weekend proved the slowest since mid-May.

With no new major releases, the top six titles nationally were relatively unchanged, all holdovers in Thor: Love and Thunder, Where the Crawdads Sing, Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis, Minions: The Rise of Gru and The Black Phone – each maintaining well.

The best performing new title was Mindblowing Films’ Punjabi-language drama Chhalla Mud Ke Nahi Aaya, which generated an impressive $505,448 from just 68 screens; it boasts the highest screen average in the top 20 at $7,898.

Directed by and starring Amrinder Gill, the film follows a young man in the early 1900s who, looking to earn money for his family, travels to Canada to join a small group of fellow Punjabis working in a lumber mill. 

Kriv Stenders’ concert film/documentary Lee Kernaghan: Boy From The Bush, released by Maslow Entertainment, proved popular in regional areas, opening to $154,067 from 134 screens.

That is the biggest start for an Australian feature doc so far this year, potentially speaking to Kernaghan’s star power. Further, it is ahead of the opening for Stenders’ 2020 country music doc Slim & I, which began at $103,000 (and finished on $432,524 as the highest grossing Australian documentary of the year).

Village Cinemas national programming manager Geoff Chard tells IF Boy From The Bush played quite well at select regional locations for the chain.

“There is certainly an appetite for this kind of content, as we saw with the results of the Slim Dusty documentary back in 2020,” he says.

David Simpson, programming manager of South Australia’s Wallis Cinemas agrees, telling IF: “The Spirit of the Bush was alive and well with Lee Kernaghan – so much so we are giving it another shot this weekend.”

Similarly Majestic Cinemas, based in regional NSW and Queensland, will play the film again this weekend, with CEO Kieren Dell noting it was even no. 1 at one of his sites.

Overall the top 20 titles generated $9.9 million, down 29 per cent on the previous.

Next weekend should see numbers rise again with Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock assassin actioner Bullet Train, followed by Jordan Peele’s Nope on August 11.

“Our pre-sales for Bullet Train are looking very promising, particularly in Gold Class and will add to the already strong line-up we currently have on screen. That’s followed by Nope that has already had a successful couple of weekends in the US, now sitting at over $US80 million,” says Chard.

However the films may not suit all exhibitors, with Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace GM Alex Temesvari noting while both are commercial films, it is a “toss-up” in terms how they will play with his audience in Sydney’s Cremorne.

“Otherwise we’re bracing for a much quieter August and September where the release schedule is oddly light and leaning much more into special event programming,” he says.

Entering its third frame, Thor: Love and Thunder was once again the clear no. 1 last weekend, with a $2.1 million result seeing the Disney/Marvel film cross $40 million.

Not too far behind was Sony’s Where the Crawdads Sing, which fell just 33 per cent in its sophomore weekend to $1.7 million, suggesting again that audiences are not heeding the film’s poor reviews. Based on the best-selling novel by Delia Owens, the drama has totalled $5.6 million so far.

Top Gun: Maverick has overtaken Avengers: Endgame to become the third highest grossing film to ever be released in Australian cinemas, now tallying $85.3 million. The Paramount title still shows no signs of touching down, dropping just 24 per cent in its 10th weekend to $1.26 million.

Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis also continues to show staying power for Warner Bros, dropping just 21 per cent in its sixth to just shy of $1.25 million. In total, the film has now reached $28.8 million, making it the sixth highest grossing Australian film of all time, ahead of the director’s Moulin Rouge! ($27.7m) and The Great Gatsby ($27.4m). Worldwide, Elvis has crooned to $US234.3 million.

In its sixth frame, Minions: The Rise of Gru dropped below $1 million for the first time with $979,945, down 44 per cent. The result moves the fifth film in the Despicable Me franchise to $40.3 million for Universal within Australia, while globally, it has just crossed $US710 million.

Stablemate The Black Phone held well across its second weekend, with the Ethan Hawke horror dipping only 33 per cent to $972,938, advancing to $3.5 million.

After eight weekends, Jurassic World Dominion is nearing its theatrical extinction with $188,310 moving the Universal title to $35.5 million.

Rounding out the top 10 was Disney’s Lightyear, now on $10.9 million after making $150,580 in its seventh.

Just below in 11th spot was UK/Australian co-production Falling for Figaro, which made $92,704 in its third to move to $711,205.

Of other Australian titles, Andrew Traucki’s Reef: Stalked entered cinemas last weekend via Bonsai Films, on just seven screens, making $1,760. Madman’s How to Please A Woman is still playing on a handful of screens, on $2.4 million after 11 weekends, as is the The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson, on $1.9 million after 13.

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