Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson proved to be a winning combination in Aussie director Patrick Hughes’ action-adventure-comedy The Hitman’s Bodyguard in Australian cinemas last weekend in yet another grim frame for exhibitors.
Meanwhile Malcolm D Lee’s Girls Trip began brightly considering films with African-American casts often struggle to connect with mainstream moviegoers.
Jeffrey Walker’s Aussie/Muslim comedy Ali’s Wedding had a fair start, boosted by favourable reviews, a festival prize, an AWG award, and word of mouth.
It was a bloodbath for the other new releases including Gifted, Thomas & Friends: Journey Beyond Sodor, All Saints and God’s Own Country.
Prolonging the two-month long slump, the top 20 titles scraped up $9.6 million, a slight 0.7 per cent uptick on the previous weekend, according to Numero.
Released by Roadshow, The Hitman’s Bodyguard captured $3 million at 267 locations including previews, pro-rata a bigger debut than the $US21.5 million opening weekend in the U.S.
The $30 million caper starring Reynolds as an uptight bodyguard and Jackson as a ruthless hitman has pocketed $55 million in the US, reigning for three straight weekends as the US summer season wound up being the worst in 11 years.
Universal’s American Made is not tracking like a typical Tom Cruise vehicle, falling by 29 per cent to $1.5 million at 261. The Doug Liman-directed CIA adventure co-starring Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, E. Roger Mitchell and Jesse Plemons has mustered $4.5 million in 11 days.
Jada Pinkett Smith’s publicity visit helped pique interest in Girls Trip, a racy comedy about four friends from college, the self-styled Flossy Possy, who reunite for a weekend music festival in New Orleans. Also featuring Queen Latifah, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish, the Universal title generated $1.4 million at 203 cinemas including sneaks.
One of the few stand-outs of the US summer, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk advanced to $22.5 million after drumming up $570,000 in its seventh frame on 226 for Warner Bros, easing by just 15 per cent.
David F. Sandberg supernatural horror film Annabelle: Creation, a prequel to 2014’s Annabelle, grabbed $537,000 in its fourth weekend on 214, falling by 41 per cent. The WB release has collected $6.7 million in Oz and $89 million in the US, a great result for the genre here.
Sony’s The Dark Tower proves the Stephen King brand is no guarantee of success as the action adventure starring Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Claudia Kim, Fran Kranz, Abbey Lee and Jackie Earle Haley plunged by 45 per cent in its third weekend, taking $326,000 at 233, which brings the total to a measly $2.9 million.
Hampstead, director Joel Hopkins’ comedy drama starring Diane Keaton, Brendan Gleeson and James Norton, bagged $294,000 in its third outing on 232, off 41 per cent, earning a decent $2.2 million for eOne.
Released by Madman Entertainment, Ali’s Wedding rang up $229,000 on 55 screens and $241,000 including festival screenings. Based on the real-life experience of lead actor and co-writer Osamah Sami, it won best original screenplay at the 2016 Australian Writers’ Guild awards and The Age Critics Award for best Australian feature film at the 2017 MIFF.
In the US, Fox Searchlight gave director Marc Webb’s Gifted a limited release on 56 screens in April before going out wide a week later on more than 1,100 screens, finishing up with a mediocre $24.8 million. Roadshow won’t have that luxury as the drama starring Chris Evans, McKenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan and Octavia Spencer fetched just $216,000 on 99 screens including previews.
In its second weekend, Celebrate Studio Ghibli, Madman Entertainment’s month long event celebrating the 22 films from the venerable Japanese animation studio, dropped by 38 per cent as it collected $157,000 on 52, to reach $470,000.
Released as alternate content, Roadshow’s animated adventure Thomas & Friends: Journey Beyond Sodor drew just $65,000 on 105.
UK writer-director Francis Lee’s debut, Yorkshire-set drama God’s Own Country grossed a blah $52,000 on 19 for Rialto.
Faith-based films often draw sizable crowds in the US, particularly in the Bible belt, but mostly don’t have a prayer in Oz. So it proved with director Steve Gomer ‘s All Saints, a drama based on the true story of salesman-turned-pastor Michael Spurlock (John Corbett) and his miraculous work with refugees from Myanmar, which brought in a dismal $39,000 on 38 screens for Sony.