BO Report: Hugh Jackman, Julia Roberts movies misfire

Hugh Jackman stars in Columbia Pictures' THE FRONT RUNNER.

Hugh Jackman in ‘The Front Runner’ (Photo: Sony Pictures)

US critics generally applauded Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Gary Hart in The Front Runner but moviegoers were indifferent to the drama about the disgraced 1988 US presidential candidate.

So it was no surprise to find the Jason Reitman-directed film sink without trace last weekend in Australia, where folks may already be tiring of politicians and campaigning.

Similarly Julia Roberts’ star power counted for little as Ben is Back had a mediocre debut, in line with its US fate.

Meanwhile Fox’s The Hate U Give, a solid performer in the US, struggled to cut through, as often happens with African-American themed films with little-known casts.

The end of school vacation combined with weak new releases resulted in the top 20’s takings plummeting by 36 per cent to $11.9 million, according to Numero.

Warner Bros./Bron Studio/Imperative Entertainment’s The Mule retained top spot, fetching $1.7 million. Withstanding the market’s steep downturn, the Clint Eastwood vehicle dropped by just 9 per cent in its second frame, raising the total to $4.8 million. In the US the drama based on the true story of a horticulturist who became a drug courier for a Mexican cartel is petering out after earning $101.7 million.

Peter Farrelly’s Green Book also held well in its second outing, taking $1.4 million (down 10 per cent) and $4.4 million thus far for eOne. The five Oscar nominations including for best picture, lead actor Viggo Mortensen and supporting actor Mahershala Ali are clearly helping, as evidenced by a rise in admissions at Cinema Nova. In the US the film has pocketed a fair $55.8 million.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass advanced to $8.5 million after snaring $1.1 million in its third outing. The sequel to Split starring James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis has generated a decent but not dazzling $88.7 million in the US and $110.3 million in the rest of the world for Disney.

Writer-director Sean Anders’ comedy Instant Family bagged $904,000 in its fourth, climbing to $11.2 million. In the US the Paramount release starring Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro ended with $66.6 million.

Fox’s unstoppable Bohemian Rhapsody cruised to $51.6 million after making $836,000 in its 14th stanza. The Queen biopic has hauled in a colossal $624 million outside the US and $821 million globally.

Warner Bros’ juggernaut Aquaman raced to $40.7 million after scoring $757,000 in its sixth. James Wan’s superhero adventure starring Jason Momoa has amassed $1.106 billion worldwide.

Universal’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World drew $668,000 in its fifth, lifting the total to $21.6 million. That augurs well for the DreamWorks Animation title directed by Dean Deblois which opens in the US on February 22.

Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns whistled up $542,000 in its fifth, ascending to $18.8 million. Rob Marshall’s fantasy-adventure-musical has collected $168.2 million in the US and $160.5 million internationally, hardly the mammoth hit which the studio was expecting.

Director Peter Hedges’ Ben is Back, which stars his son Lucas Hedges as a drug-addicted lad and Roberts as his anguished mother, generated $458,000 on 146 screens – an average of around $3,100 per screen – for Roadshow. Released in the US by Roadside Attractions in December, the drama scraped up just $3.6 million.

Shawn Seet’s Storm Boy netted $406,000 its third outing, tumbling by 55 per cent. The Sony Pictures release has grossed a respectable $4.3 million.

Fox’s The Favourite collared $271,000 in its sixth weekend after adding 39 screens, now on 134, to exploit its 10 Academy Award nominations, banking $4.4 million.

Sony’s The Front Runner garnered $111,000 on 59 screens and $171,000 including previews, mirroring the US where it launched on Election Day last November and staggered along to $2 million.

Directed by George Tillman Jr., The Hate U Give follows Amandla Stenberg as teenager Starr Carter, who is caught between two worlds: her predominantly black neighbourhood and her white, privileged high school peers.

Based on Angie Thomas’ young adult novel and adapted by the late Audrey Wells, the film struck a chord in the US, making $29.7 million, but here it opened with $99,000 on 43 screens including previews.

Cinema Nova’s GM Kristian Connelly observes: “We had low expectations of Ben Is Back, The Front Runner and The Hate U Give.

“With no Oscar attention foisted onto new openers, the weekend was once again dominated by Oscar nominees and continued interest in Clint Eastwood’s The Mule. Green Book has enjoyed stellar word of mouth.

The Favourite will soon overtake The Lobster as filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’s highest-grossing film at Cinema Nova; a remarkable feat considering the latter’s final gross of over $325,000 at Cinema Nova was achieved over a nine-month release, versus The Favourite’s six weeks of release.”