BO Report: Despite cinema closures, ‘Space Jam 2’ still a slam dunk

'Space Jam 2'.

Space Jam: A New Legacy did bumper business during school holiday advance screenings, but its official opening over the weekend was hampered by cinema closures in the country’s largest markets.

Nonetheless, the standalone sequel to the 1996 original film bowed on a $2.3 million from 370 screens for Warner Bros, or a respectable average of $6,193 per screen. That opening takes the Looney Tunes hybrid animation, directed by Malcolm D. Lee and starring LeBron James, to a solid $8.7 million.

Among those who have found success with the title is South Australia chain Wallis Cinemas, with programming manager David Simpson noting families are keen to get out.

Space Jam continued to excel for us in the last week of SA school holidays,” he tells IF. 

“We still saw good numbers from Peter Rabbit 2 and Spirit Untamed. Families want to get out so with three notable animations next holidays, things look encouraging.”

For Majestic Cinemas in regional NSW and Queensland, Space Jam 2 was the top performer at most sites, neck and neck at many with the second week of Black Widow.

“The box office was very much a two horse race with not much in the way of new releases other than Gunpowder Milkshake which didn’t set the world on fire,” CEO Kieren Dell tells IF.

“We are hoping for a bit of a tick up next weekend with some new cinema exclusive content in Snake Eyes and Old and then leading into Jungle Cruise, which should have a very broad appeal, and with a solid program in August as well.”

A hitwoman thriller starring Karen Gillan and Lena Hedley, Studiocanal’s Gunpowder Milkshake opened on $108,344 from 184 screens.

In limited release, Sony’s supernatural drama Nine Days, which opened at last year’s Sundance, just cracked the top 10 with $47,141 from 28 screens. At $1,684 per screen that is the fourth best average of the week, behind Space Jam 2, Black Widow and F9.

All titles were hurt this week by the fact cinemas in Victoria and Greater Sydney are closed due to COVID-19 lockdowns, affecting approximately 57 per cent of the market.

As such, the top 20 titles mustered just shy of $6 million, 60 per cent down on last weekend, according to Numero.

Disney’s Black Widow came in at no. 2, but takings fell sharply in its second frame, with the MCU title garnering just under $2 million, a decline of 68 per cent, moving its overall result to $10.4 million.

How much this drop off is attributable to Victorian cinemas closing, the end of school holidays in some states or the film’s simultaneous PVOD release via Disney+, is hard to say. However, most titles in release fell similar amounts.

An almost identical decline for Black Widow was also seen in the North American market, where the film made $US26.3 million, down 67 per cent on the previous weekend. There, the National Association of Theatre Owners released a press release calling the second frame result a “stunning collapse”, attributing it to the Disney+ strategy.

“Despite assertions that this pandemic-era improvised release strategy was a success for Disney and the simultaneous release model, it demonstrates that an exclusive theatrical release means more revenue for all stakeholders in every cycle of the movie’s life,” it said.

Back in Australia, F9 held to third in its fifth weekend, climbing to $20.6 million after making another $427,850 for Universal.

Stablemate Spirit Untamed, which had held during in the school holidays, tumbled 64 per cent, ringing up $219,672 in its sixth, advancing to $5.6 million.

Roadshow’s The Hitman’s Wife Bodyguard, now in its fourth, rang up $208,649 to crack $7 million, while Sony’s Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is now on $1.4 million after three weeks with weekend earnings of $153,510.

WB’s In The Heights tumbled 61 per cent in its fourth, bringing in $133,444, a result that sees the musical move to $3.6 million.

Meanwhile Disney’s Cruella, now eight weeks in, dropped 67 per cent with $110,136. The de Vil origin story has now amassed $9.5 million.