BO Report: ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ starts strong, but no match for ‘John Wick 4’

'Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves'. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

Exhibitors are pleased with the opening weekend of Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves, though it didn’t quite roll enough to steal pole position from John Wick: Chapter 4.

The two titles proved the top choice of most cinemagoers around the country last weekend, with the market share of the two films combined at almost 70 per cent. They were also the only films to cross the $1 million mark.

Paramount launched D&D, which directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley have fashioned as fantasy heist comedy, on 504 screens to $2.6 million. With previews, it already stands at $3.7 million.

Village Cinemas national programming manager Geoff Chard tells IF it opened well, even if slightly under its estimates.

“This though is most likely due to the advance screenings from the weekend prior, and we’re confident that the upcoming school holidays will significantly increase the audience base for the film.”

Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell agrees the result was a good one, “solid but not spectacular”. With strong word of mouth already, he expects a strong run through Easter and the school holidays.

Based on the role-playing game, Chris Pine leads the cast as a charming thief, who with his band of unlikely adventurers, embarks on an epic quest to retrieve a lost relic. Things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people. Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant, Rege-Jean Page, and Sophia Lillis also star.

D&D premiered at SXSW and has strong reviews, with a 91 per cent Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Stateside, it opened to $US38.5 million, and gathered another $US33 million from international markets, including Australia.

Looking ahead, most exhibitors are positive about April, most particularly the release of Universal’s Super Mario Bros on Wednesday.

Wallis Cinemas programming manager David Simpson is among those enthused excited for “Mario time”.

“With its broad appeal we are anticipating a long run from the two plumbers this weekend through the school holidays,” he tells IF.

Chard calls the film the “four-quadrant picture the industry needs”, noting Village has “exceptionally strong” pre-sales across all experiences, including Gold Class, Vmax, Vjunior and 4DX.

Dell echoes that Mario has strong appeal across different audience segments.

“Given the well-known IP across different age demographics (we are finding a lot of adults booking tickets already), and the lack of competition in the family market as well as the buzz and anticipation, we expect it to take off from day 1 and give the all-time animated box office record in Australia a good shake.”

Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace GM Alex Temesvari and Cinema Nova CEO Kristian Connelly are also keen for Ben Affleck’s starry sports drama Air, about the origins of the deal between Nike and Michael Jordan that led to the Air Jordan shoeline.

Connelly predicts a healthy holiday period ahead for exhibitors, summarising: “The coming Easter long weekend promises to be a strong one nationally thanks to the highly anticipated Super Mario Bros feature arriving prior to the weekend, Ben Affleck’s outstanding all-star comic drama Air landing this Wednesday and what should be a solid hold for Dungeons & Dragons, which is enjoying much deserved excellent word of mouth.”

Of the other new releases, Indian period action drama Dasara came in at no. 7 with $222,848 from just 58 screens for Tolly Movies, while fellow Bollywood title, action thriller Bholaa, opened at no. 10 with $117,280 from 76 screens for Mindblowing.

Icon is already reporting preview figures for animated title Argonuts, which it is releasing on Thursday; it came in at no. 9 with $128,796 from 158 screens.

Numero figures put last weekend’s top 20 titles at $9.5 million, down 16 per cent on the previous.

John Wick: Chapter 4 held onto the top spot, dropping only 38 per cent to $4 million for Studiocanal in its sophomore outing – a hold that has impressed and surprised exhibitors. Fast outpacing previous instalments, the film stands at $12.9 million already. To put that into perspective, the original film made just $3.2 million across its eight weeks of release in 2014.

“A $20m+ lifetime now seems certain, making this film the highest grossing of the series. In fact, it should surpass the lifetime box office of Chapter 3 sometime over the coming weekend,” Chard says.

Warner Bros.’ Shazam! Fury of the Gods gathered $517,926 in its third frame, advancing to $4.4 million, while Paramount’s Scream VI was just behind with $515,704 in its fourth, moving to $6.9 million.

Creed III rang up $305,588 for WB in its fifth weekend, a result that sees the film just a whisker below $9 million.

Transmission’s Bill Nighy-starrer Living is proving a word of mouth hit with older audiences, dropping on 19 per cent in its third weekend to $273,075, advancing $2.1 million.

The drama has been a strong performer for Cinema Nova, with Connelly noting: “Living continues to leverage excellent word of mouth with Nova’s gross cumulative box office now seeing the venue rank fourth despite not having participated in extensive festival play in 2022.”

Majestic Cinemas just opened the film this weekend in sub-release, with Dell noting it was “a pleasant upside surprise… catering to an older, more discerning audience.”

Sony’s Adam Driver sci-fi action thriller 65 came in at eighth position, with a $142,378 fourth weekend result pushing the film to $2.8 million.

Of the local titles in release, Roadshow’s Of An Age dropped outside the top 20, gathering $27,817 from 40 screens in its second frame to move to $241,530.

Documentary Shackleton: The Greatest Story of Survival is now four weekends in for Kismet, taking another $18,143 to move to $229,546.

The Portable Door, in limited release via Madman ahead of a Stan launch April 7, took $8,338 from 33 screens, moving to $51,624.