Zoey Davis (Taylor Russell), Ben Miller (Logan Miller), Rachel (Holland Roden), Brianna (Indya Moore) and Nathan (Thomas Cocquerel) in 'Escape Room: Tournament of Champions'.

Despite school holidays, last weekend proved relatively quiet at the movies, with cinemas still shut in Sydney and other parts of the country.

Theatres will remain closed in Australia’s largest city and its surrounds, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour, until at least July 9.

Capacity restrictions remain in place and masks are compulsory in cinemas in the rest of NSW, as well as several other states.

Cinemas in Western Australia’s Perth and Peel, as well as Darwin and Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, were also closed for part of the weekend, reopening on Saturday. Lockdown restrictions in parts of regional Queensland ended on Friday, followed by Brisbane on Saturday evening.

As such, the top 20 titles tallied just $6.8 million, down 25 per cent on the previous, according to Numero.

However, exhibitors outside of Sydney have high hopes for this weekend, with the latest instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Widow – directed by Aussie Cate Shortland – finally landing in theatres on Thursday.

Village Cinemas national programming programming manager Geoff Chard tells IF anticipation is high, with advance screenings starting from Wednesday.

“Pre-sales are tracking incredibly well, ahead of any other Marvel film that has released over the last few years (with the exception of Infinity War and Endgame),” he says.

As for last weekend, the only major new release was Sony’s Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, which mustered just $506,903 from 173 screens, an average of $2,930.

No doubt the film was impacted by lockdowns, as Chard points out: “That’s a little under half of the original film’s opening weekend, but with around half of the cinemas across the country closed, that puts it very close to the original.”

Opening in limited release was Madman’s drama Herself, which bowed on $46,265 from 46; Arcadia Films’ French romcom Perfumes, which opened on 41,022 from 21 and Studiocanal animation Little Vampire, which made just $29,482 from 89.

Perfumes was the top new opener at Cinema Nova, leveraging solid word-of-mouth from the French Film Festival.

However, CEO Kristian Connelly notes the market overall remains hard to read.

“Day-to-day trade is unpredictable with some days trading at a pre-COVID level while others land at around 60 per cent of the pre-pandemic standard.

“Interstate lockdowns seem to have had little effect on Nova audiences, but the sluggish vaccine roll-out is undoubtedly a factor for age demographics who have yet to return to a level we are seeing for other audience groups.”

In terms of the top titles, F9 continues to lead, with the Universal film collecting another $1.9 million to move to $17.8 million.

Globally, the film has now cinched $US500 million, the first time a Hollywood film has done so since 2019.

In the no. 2 spot was The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, which is now on $5.8 million for Roadshow after earning $979,128 in its second frame.

School holidays have proved lucrative for Universal’s Spirit Untamed, with the film boosted by 44 per cent, seeing takings of $663,507. The animated sequel, now four weeks in cinemas, stands just shy of $4 million.

Despite simultaneous release on PVOD via Disney+, Cruella has proved to have theatrical staying power, dropping just 2 per cent in its sixth to earn $570,809. That sees the Emma Stone and Emma Thompson starrer move to $8.4 million.

Jon M. Chu’s musical In The Heights also held well for Warner Bros. despite cinema closures, dropping just 25 per cent from its opening weekend with $565,639, taking its cume to $2.6 million.

Stablemate The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It gathered another $372,293 in its fifth, with the horror now on $9.8 million. Roadshow has fast-tracked the film from cinemas, and is due to land on Apple TV, Fetch, Foxtel Store, Google Play, Microsoft, Prime Video, Telstra TV Box Office and YouTube from this Thursday.

A Quiet Place Part II has crossed the $13 million mark for Paramount in its sixth week, with weekend earnings tallying $322,426.

Another title boosted by school holidays was Rialto’s Cranston Academy: Monster Zone, which also jumped 44 per cent with takings of $184,433 in its second frame, moving to $484,708.

Rounding out the top 10 was the Australian-shot Buckley’s Chance, from Canadian Tim Brown, which mustered $140,332 in its second to advance to $514,029.


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