'Elvis'.

The Australian box office bowed to the King on the weekend as Elvis debuted at number one ahead of fellow new entry, Minions: The Rise of Gru.

Warner Bros.’ Queensland-shot biopic drew $6.7 million from 546 screens for an average of $12,346 per session, a performance similar to that of director Baz Luhrmann’s previous film, The Great Gatsby, which opened to $6.8 million on 587 screens back in 2013.

In the US, the film had the rare honour of tying for the number one spot alongside Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick, with both films amassing US$30.5 million. However, data from box office analytics firm EntTelligence published on Deadline noted the Tom Cruise-led juggernaut was just ahead on admissions. Internationally, Luhrmann’s latest effort took in $US20 million from 50 markets, including a $US4.7 million start in the UK.

Starring Austin Butler in the title role, Elvis charts the journey of the iconic crooner through his relationship with enigmatic manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), who relays the events as a man looking back while nearing the end of his life. The film had its world premiere at last month’s Cannes Film Festival, where its balance of substance and style was debated at length by critics.

Cinema Nova CEO Kristian Connelly noted that Elvis had helped to draw in additional audiences, rather than take away from the momentum of titles, such as Top Gun: Maverick and Jurassic World Dominion.

“Not only has the film opened at the higher end of expectations, the excellent fifth weekend hold for Top Gun: Maverick — with which Elvis clearly shares an audience in older moviegoers — and a respectable third week easing of the Jurassic World sequel indicates that Elvis hasn’t cannibalised the overall market,” he said.

“As we’ve also seen in the US where elevated-horror title The Black Phone also entered the market to strong box office, it’s apparent that all quadrants are returning to the cinema.”

Overall, the Australian box office top 20 totalled $23 million, up 36 per cent from the previous weekend.

In second spot, Universal’s Minions: The Rise of Gru proved there was still hope for spin-offs of animated franchises following Lightyear‘s slightly underwhelming debut last weekend, with the Despicable Me prequel bowing to $5.4 million from 470 screens to record an average of $11,566 per session.

It was enough to knock Top Gun: Maverick into third position in its fifth frame, with the action sequel garnering another $5.4 million to push past $64 million and become the fifth highest-grossing film of all time in Australia. There were more milestones at the global box office, where it became only the second title to reach US$1 billion in the pandemic era.

Paramount Pictures Australasia vice president and managing director Brian Pritchett said the performance had shown the theatrical movie-going experience was “more robust than ever”.

“This film is a multigenerational must-see event, drawing both fans of the original, who have seen it several times, as well as younger audiences who have embraced the film and are sharing their love with everyone around them,” he said.

“The sky is definitely not the limit for this movie.”

Coming up behind the jets of Top Gun: Maverick was Universal’s Jurassic World: Dominion, which managed $3.2 million from its third weekend of release for an overall total of $26.5 million.

It was followed by Disney/Pixar’s aforementioned Lightyear with $1.3 million from its sophomore outing, reflecting a 55 per cent decline from its opening weekend and a gross total of $5 million,

More than $1 million separated the next position on the rankings as Grange House’s Indian Hindi-language family comedy Jugjugg Jeeyo opened to $285,322 from 61 screens for an average of $4,677 per session.

In a win for independent cinema, Roadshow’s Everything Everywhere All at Once overtook Disney’s Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, with the former generating $130,450 from its 11th frame, while the latter took in $111,350 from its eighth weekend to move past $38 million overall.

Of Everything Everywhere All at Once‘s gross total of $5.6 million, nearly $400,000 has come from Cinema Nova, where the title consistently places in the top three.

Connelly said the film stood out in what was an otherwise quiet time for the upscale and arthouse titles.

“There is more to do is in the upscale and arthouse space, where venues are back to the pre-pandemic ‘drought’ of upscale titles that annually occurs between Sydney FF and Melbourne International Film Festival,” he said.

“While this immediately makes things more challenging for upscale and arthouse exhibitors, once MIFF wraps we’ll see a plethora of titles hit screens where they’ll battle it out for screens and audience attention.”

The two remaining places in the top 10 were both filled by new entries, with Trafalgar
Releasing’s George Michael documentary Freedom Uncut bowing to 80,372 from 39 screens for an average of $2,061, coming in ahead of Forum Films’ Punjabi romance Sher Bagga, which debuted to $65,683 from 44 screens, reflecting an average of $1,493 per session.

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