‘Hustlers’ (Photo credit: STX Films).

Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers is a hit in the US but the crime caper starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart and Cardi B was never going to beat the second weekend of Todd Phillips’ blockbuster Joker in Australia.

Meanwhile Ang Lee’s $140 million-budgeted action thriller Gemini Man is shaping as a write-off for Paramount Pictures and co-investors Skydance, Alibaba and Fosun.

Rachel Griffiths’ Ride Like a Girl maintained a fair clip in its third weekend while two alternate content releases, NT Live: Fleabag and Metallica & San Francisco Symphony: S&M drew sizable audiences.

The top 20 titles generated $19.2 million last weekend, 13 per cent down on the previous frame, according to Numero.

Starring Joaquin Phoenix as the twisted, disenfranchised clown-for-hire and stand-up comic in 1980s Gotham, Joker rang up $7.4 million, easing by just 24 per cent, hoisting its total to $22 million.

The Warner Bros/Village Roadshow/Bron Studios’ production has amassed $543.9 million worldwide in just 12 days: $192.7 million in the US and $351.2 million in the rest of the world.

That ranks already as a personal best for Phoenix, surpassing Gladiator‘s lifetime total of $460.5 million, and the second-highest grosser for Phillips behind The Hangover 2’s $586.7 million

Based on Jessica Pressler’s New York Magazine article about strippers who turned the tables on their greedy male clients during the recession, Hustlers rustled up $2.8 million and $3.3 million including previews for Roadshow. That’s in line with the $33.1 million opening weekend in the US, where the low cost ($20.7 million) film has taken $98 million in 31 days.

Gemini Man, which stars Will Smith as an elite assassin who is pursued by a mysterious young operative who turns out to be a younger version of him, stumped up just $1.5 million.

Lee’s ploy of shooting in the 120 frames per second format in 4K evidently held little interest for moviegoers judging by the US debut of $20.5 million. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer can’t expect the rest of the world to bail out the production as it’s collected a measly $39 million in 58 markets.

Released by Transmission Films, Ride Like a Girl raced along to $7.5 million after corralling $1.3 million, falling by just 21 per cent. The Michelle Payne biopic starring Teresa Palmer, Sam Neill, Sullivan Stapleton and Stevie Payne is heading for north of $10 million.

The producer Richard Keddie, for whom the film was a four-year labour of love, is finalising deals for major markets via Embankment Films.

Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Abominable advanced to $8.3 million after drawing $1.1 million in its fourth outing. The saga of a young yeti’s journey to get back to his family on Mount Everest, written and directed by Jill Culton, has generated $48 million in the US and $108.1 million worldwide.

Sony Pictures’ The Angry Birds 2 flew to $9.2 million after minting $900,000 in its fifth. The CGI animated comedy co-directed by Thurop Van Orman and John Rice has grossedd $41.3 million in the US and $136 million globally, way below the original’s $352.3 million worldwide haul.

Paramount’s Queensland-shot Dora and the Lost City of Gold reached $6 million after bagging $714,000 in its fourth. The adventure comedy adapted from the Nickelodeon TV series, directed by James Bobin, has collected $111 million globally, a mediocre return on a production budget of $49 million.

Universal/Focus Features’ Downton Abbey commanded $548,000 in its fifth, advancing to $12.4 million. The Michael Engler-directed movie featuring an ensemble cast led by Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery and Joanne Froggatt has minted a handsome $152.7 million globally.

‘NT Live: Fleabag.’

Paramount’s alternate content title Paw Patrol: Ready Race Rescue stands at $1 million after fetching $334,000 in its second stanza.

Universal’s Good Boys scored $315,000 in its third, bringing the total to $5.2 million, a nifty result given international markets have delivered a mere $26.7 million. The crass teen comedy directed by Gene Stupnitsky has clocked $82.7 million in the US.

A one-woman show filmed in London, written and performed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and directed by Vicky Jones, NT Live: Fleabag mustered $223,000 on 37 screens for Sharmill Films.

Fleabag was a stellar performer with multiple sessions sold out; encores are already programmed for the coming months,” says Cinema Nova GM Kristian Connelly.

Metallica: S&M, which saw the heavy metal band team with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra for the first time 20 years, whistled up $158,000 at the weekend on 115 screens and $313,000 for Trafalgar Releasing.

Surveying the weekend, Wallis Cinemas programming manager Sasha Close says: “Hustlers opened extremely well across the Wallis Cinema circuit. While Joker secured the number spot Gemini Man failed to capture the attention of cinemagoers.

Ride Like a Girl is continuing to post really strong numbers propelled by excellent WOM. The NT live release of Fleabag was very impressive at the weekend.”

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