BO Report: Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ clips ‘Dumbo’s’ wings

Lupita Nyong’o in ‘Us’

Jordan Peele’s grisly horror movie Us easily won the BO derby in Australia last weekend, outscoring Tim Burton’s live-action re-imagining of the Disney classic Dumbo.

That is not surprising in light of the US results for both films and the under-whelming debuts worldwide of Burton’s $170 million production.

However Australian exhibitors expect Dumbo to fly during the school vacation and it may well surpass Us, given the usual trajectory of horror movies.

Ticket sales rallied last weekend, also boosted by the solid start of Justin Baldoni’s teenage romance Five Feet Apart. The top 20 titles generated $14.7 million, up 37 per cent on the previous weekend, according to Numero.

Released by Universal, Us bagged $3.8 million on 319 screens, eclipsing Peele’s debut film Get Out, which opened with $1.9 million plus $975,000 from advance screenings. Get Out ended up with $6.2 million so the follow-up starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker will top that.

In the US, Peele’s movie opened with $71.1 million and has amassed $127.8 million in 10 days. Pointing out that African-American and Latino audiences accounted for half the ticket buyers in the US, Cinema Nova GM Kristian Connelly tells IF: “Australian cinemagoers are less receptive to the horror genre than their American counterparts so the Australian opening – all factors considered – is very respectable.”

Burton’s two-hour remake of the 1941 64-minute animated classic collared $2.7 million on 501 screens, which, pro-rata, was well below the soft $46 million US launch. The international haul was $71 million, with number one debuts in major markets including France, Italy, Spain, Russia and the UK.

Burton is a proven director and the appealing cast is led by Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Eva Green, Danny DeVito, Finley Hobbins and Nico Parker, so what went wrong?

Some US pundits blamed an old-fashioned, slow-paced story which deals with animal cruelty and loss of parents. One US film executive posed the questions: “Who was the audience? How well is the property known? Where was the fun? How did they spend $300 million in aggregate on a non-multi-quadrant picture?”

Maybe Disney/Marvel will make so much money on Captain Marvel and the upcoming Avengers: End Game that will cancel out the likely losses on Dumbo.

Captain Marvel vaulted to $34.8 million after nabbing nearly $2.3 million in its fourth outing. The global haul for the sci-fi fantasy co-directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck towers at $990.6 million: $353.8 million domestic, $636.8 million in the rest of the world.

Five Feet Apart, which follows Cole Sprouse and Haley Lu Richardson as two young patients with cystic fibrosis as they try to have a relationship despite being forced to stay a certain distance away from each other, fetched $1.6 million on 419 screens and $1.8 million including sneaks for Roadshow.

Directed by Mike Mitchell and featuring the voices of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie and Tiffany Haddish, The Lego Movie 2 mustered $1.3 million in its second weekend, down 31 per cent. The Warner Bros. family film has earned $5.3 million in Oz, a modest $104.6 million in the US and $78.7 million internationally.

Writer-director Stephen Merchant’s Fighting with My Family, which stars Florence Pugh as the young English woman who became the WWE’s youngest ever women’s champion, grabbed $671,000 in its second weekend for Universal, off 45 per cent.

The movie produced by Dwayne Johnson, which co-stars Nick Frost, Lena Headey, Jack Lowden and Vince Vaughn, has scored $2.6 million, outperforming the US’s $22.2 million.

Anthony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai fell by 41 per cent to $376,000 in its third outing for Icon, reaching nearly $2.7 million. Exhibitors had been hoping for more. “Regrettably, Hotel Mumbai has not regained its box office stride at our venue following the Christchurch terror attack, suggesting that audiences are still troubled by the topic,” Connelly says.

Wallis Cinemas consultant Bob Parr observes: “I am sad that such a good film as Hotel Mumbai isn’t holding. The timing of release was unfortunate. Those who see it love it very much.”

Peter Farrelly’s Green Book advanced to $13.7 million after snaring $262,000 in its 10th outing for eOne/Universal. The triple Oscar winner has collected $84.6 million in the US and a far more impressive $210.6 million internationally.

After a mediocre debut, Oliver Parker’s Swimming with Men, which stars Rob Brydon as a bored accountant who dives into the world of male synchronized swimming to try to save his flailing marriage, eased by 21 per cent to $154,000, generating $622,000 for Icon.

Charles Martin Smith’s adventure A Dog’s Way Home is on its last legs after making $139,000 in its fifth weekend and $4.2 million for Sony Pictures.