BO report: Grand entrance for ‘Downton Abbey: A New Era’

Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery in 'Downton Abbey: A New Era' (Image: Ben Blackall/Universal)

Older audiences made their presence felt at the box office last weekend, with the newest instalment of historical drama Downton Abbey debuting at number one ahead of The Lost City and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.

According to Numero figures, Universal’s Downton Abbey: A New Era bowed to $1.9 million from 466 screens for an average of $4,072. However, that result is notably less than its predecessor’s debut of $3.2 million in 2019.

Globally, the film opened to $US9.3 million, including $US3.8 million from 746 locations in the UK, marking the second-widest release ever in that market. It will open in North America May 20.

The sequel picks up with the Crawley family and Downton staff as they receive a royal visit from the King and Queen of Great Britain. Directed by Simon Curtis and written by Julian Fellowes, it features returning cast members Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, and Tuppence Middleton, as well as new additions Dominic West and Hugh Dancy.

Cinema Nova CEO Kristian Connelly told IF there had been a somewhat muted response to the period drama.

Downton Abbey: A New Era delivered a little below expectations with the film landing at around 50-60 per cent of the first film’s opening week,” he said.

“The film has been popular with its primary older female audience at multiplex venues and premium cinema locations, but the inner city urban filmgoer has instead erred on the side of edgier fare including Everything Everywhere, The Northman, and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, which eased by less than 10 per cent on the prior frame.”

In a weekend where the top 20 films grossed $9.5 million, representing a downturn of more than 30 per cent from the previous total, Paramount’s action rom-com The Lost City came in second, taking in $1.8 million in its third frame for an overall total of $12.2 million.

Warner Bros. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore also managed to retain its third place standing from the prior weekend, drawing $1.2 million from its fourth outing to tally at $16.8 million.

Family films rounded out the top five, with Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2 achieving $1.2 million from its fifth weekend to move to $19.9 million, coming in ahead of Universal’s The Bad Guys at $788,507, also in its fifth, which grew to $13.4 million.

The new releases from last week, Universal’s The Northman and Studiocanal’s The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, both dropped down on the list. The Viking epic moved from fifth to sixth, dipping 38 per cent to $712,284 to move to a total of $2.4 million. Meanwhile audiences are seemingly indifferent to seeing Nicolas Cage as Nick Cage in Tom Gormican’s action-comedy, which slipped two places down to eighth, generating $324,108 – a 48 per cent drop – for a cume of $1.3 million.

In seventh position, Roadshow’s Everything Everywhere All at Once continues to perform strongly, down less than $1,000 on the previous frame at $604,988 and advancing to $2.6 million overall.

Connelly said the sci-fi action-adventure was on track to become of the cinema’s best performers.

“[It was] another excellent week for Everything Everywhere All At Once at Cinema Nova, with the film likely to become one of our biggest films of all time,” he said.

“It has just surpassed Belfast and House Of Gucci to become the biggest film of 2022 to date, trailing only Dune, Licorice Pizza, and The French Dispatch, in terms of films released since the last Melbourne lockdown.”

Of the top 20 films, a quarter were new releases from India, the highest placed of which was Southern Star’s Telugu-language action-drama Acharya, which garnered $193,000 from 75 screens for an average of $2,574, enough for the ninth position.

Fellow Southern Star film Kaathu Vaakula Rendu Kaadhal, a Tamil-language romantic comedy wasn’t far behind, with $117,576 from 39 screens for an average of $3,015. It came in just ahead of Forum Films’ Hindi-language thriller Runway 34, which had $110,260 from 64 screens for an average of $1,723.

Rounding out the top 10 was WB’s The Batman, which is still playing in cinemas despite now being on TVOD platforms. It crossed the $38 million mark in its ninth weekend, with receipts tallying $152,969.