Margot Robbie in ‘I, Tonya.’

It’s highly unusual for films with Aussie stars and directors to occupy the top two positions at the Australian BO but that happened last weekend as neither of the new wide releases, Den of Thieves and Molly’s Game, made much of an impression.

Clearly benefitting from repeat business and Hugh Jackman’s vast fan base, The Greatest Showman regained the lead in its sixth weekend.

Margot Robbie’s dazzling turn in I, Tonya saw the comedy/drama take second place, holding reasonably well in its second frame considering the overall drop in business.

The top 20 titles collectively grossed $13.8 million last weekend, down 32 per cent on the Australia Day long weekend, according to Numero.

Meanwhile Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country rustled up $162,000 on 42 screens in its second outing, falling by 38 per cent, making $647,000 thus far.

Exhibitors are showing their faith in the period Western which will roll out on another 29 locations on Thursday and a further 65 from February 15 onwards.

“Without the drop-off of a post-public holiday weekend and the new screens coming in we expect Sweet Country to dig in,” Transmission Films’ Andrew Mackie tells IF.

Stephan Elliott’s Swinging Safari pocketed $146,000 in its third outing at 177 cinemas, falling by a worrying 57 per cent. The retro comedy has grossed $1.4 million for the Becker Film Group.

Aussie director Michael Gracey’s The Greatest Showman rang up $1.6 million, slipping by 24 per cent. The musical drama starring Jackman and Michelle Williams has whistled up $26.3 million in Oz and $137.4 million in the US.

Fellow Aussie Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya drummed up nearly $1.5 million, off by 36 per cent. The biopic on disgraced American figure skater Tonya Harding has raked in $4.6 million for Roadshow and a modest $22.6 million in the US.

Roadshow launched director Christian Gudegast’s heist thriller Den of Thieves at 187 locations, generating a ho-hum $1.3 million. That’s no surprise considering the movie starring Gerard Butler, 50 Cent, Pablo Schreiber and O’Shea Jackson Jr. has drawn mostly African-Americans in the US, earning $36.3 million after its third weekend.

Sony’s meteoric Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle reached $46.4 million after grabbing $1.1 million in its sixth weekend.

The feature directing debut of screenwriter Adam Sorkin, Molly’s Game fetched $1.04 million at 262 cinemas and $1.4 million with previews for eOne. Based on a true story, the film stars Jessica Chastain as a former Olympic skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being busted by the FBI.

Fox’s Maze Runner: The Death Cure collected $1 million in its third frame, advancing to $8.6 million.

The six Oscar nominations for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri continue to pay off as writer-director Martin McDonagh’s comedy/drama collared $926,000 in its fifth weekend, off just 18 per cent. The Fox release has banked $8.1 million.

Director Joe Wright’s WW2 drama Darkest Hour climbed to $5.1 million after minting $682,000 in its fourth weekend for Universal.

Indian director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s medieval epic Padmaavat, which stars Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, captured $514,000 in its second weekend, scoring $2.6 million for Paramount.

Steven Spielberg’s The Post reached $6.1 million after making $477,000 in its fourth outing for eOne.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread received six Oscar nominations including best film, best director and for leads Daniel Day-Lewis and Lesley Manville. However Universal’s 1950s-set drama about a renowned London dressmaker whose life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman seems rather too esoteric for mainstream tastes, judging by the $300,000 opening weekend on 65 screens and $376,000 with previews.

Cinema Nova general manager Kristian Connelly hoped for bigger debuts for Molly’s Game and Phantom Thread but expects both to hold reasonably well this weekend. “There is so much upscale content in the marketplace my feeling is that audiences are gradually making their way through the award-season films based on word of mouth, awards and general buzz,” he says.

After taking $US8.1 million in its first 10 days in China, Kimble Rendall’s action-adventure Guardians of the Tomb opened at 13 screens on the Chinese-language circuit, taking just $11,161 for Asia Releasing.

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