BO Report: ‘Jumanji,’ ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Frozen’ sequels draw crowds

‘Jumanji: The Next Level.’

Kids and families are flocking to the Jumanji, Star Wars and Frozen sequels while adults are embracing the original titles Little Women, The Gentlemen and Jojo Rabbit.

French-language dramas The Truth and Portrait of a Lady on Fire are winning upscale audiences, Bollywood fans are savouring Hindi comedy Good Newwz and to a much lesser extent Dabangg 3 while Chinese action adventure Ip Man 4: The Finale is attracting followers of martial arts movies.

All told, the wide smorgasbord of offerings is giving cinemas a much brighter start to the year than 12 months ago, when Aquaman, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and Ralph Breaks the Internet ruled the roost.

The top 20’s takings for the week ending January 1 totaled $49.5 million, up from $44 million for the corresponding week a year ago. Last weekend the top 20 raked in $26.4 million, according to Numero.

Sony’s Jumanji: The Next Level scored $7.7 million in its second frame, hoisting the total to $28.4 million. Jake Kasdan’s action fantasy starring Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan has amassed $610 million worldwide, including $374 million from international markets.

Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker vaulted to $39.2 million after minting $4.3 million in its third frame. JJ Abrams’ sci-fi epic has hauled in $919 million, split between domestic’s $451 million and international’s $468 million.

Guy Ritchie’s kinetic crime caper The Gentlemen grabbed $3.4 million at the weekend and $4.5 million including the New Year’s Day premiere for Roadshow. Pro-rata, that compares well with the $US4.2 million UK debut for the film starring Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Grant, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding and Michelle Dockery.

Little Women, Greta Gerwig’s reinterpretation of the Louisa May Alcott novel rang up $3.3 million and $4.7 million in five days for Sony Pictures. In the US the drama starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Eliza Scanlen as the March sisters, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep has collected $60 million since Christmas Day.

Disney/Fox’s Spies in Disguise drew $1.8 million and $2.2 million in five days. The animated sci-fi comedy featuring the voices of Will Smith and Tom Holland, co-directed by Troy Quane and Nick Bruno, is a modest performer in the US, making $46.7 million.

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Frozen II advanced to $34.6 million after adding $1.7 million in its sixth frame. The sequel co-directed by the original’s Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee now ranks as the highest grossing animated title of all time worldwide with $1.325 billion, surpassing Frozen and Incredibles 2.

Jojo Rabbit (Photo credit: Kimberley French. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved).

Disney/Fox Searchlight’s Jojo Rabbit fetched $1 million in its second outing, easing by 30 per cent, to reach $3.6 million. Taika Waititi’s Nazi satire starring Roman Griffin Davis, Scarlett Johansson, Kiwi Thomasin McKenzie and the director as Hitler has bagged a fair $21.6 million in the US.

Cinema Nova was the top-grossing location for Jojo Rabbit, where GM Kristian Connelly reports it’s performing at a similar level to last year’s The Favourite, which ended up with more than $400,000 at his venue.

Budgeted at $95 million, Universal/Working Title’s Cats is a dud in the US with $24.7 million but the Tom Hooper-directed musical is resonating better in some cinemas here, taking $698,000 in its second weekend and $3.1 million thus far.

The film featuring James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift and Rebel Wilson is playing well at Majestic Cinemas, where CEO Kieren Dell says audiences are ignoring the critics, observing: “Those who are seeing it are loving it.”

However Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace GM Alex Temesvari says: “Cats performed as poorly as expected, which is a shame as 12 months ago on paper it looked like it could have been a Christmas hit.”

Studiocanal’s hit Knives Out climbed to $12 million after adding $585,000 in its sixth weekend. Lionsgate sees franchise potential in the clever whodunit from writer-director Rian Johnson, which cost $40 million and has generated $274.4 million worldwide.

The directing debut of Raj Mehta, Good Newwz, which stars Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Diljit Dosanjh and Kiara Advani in the saga of two couples with the same surnames who try in-vitro fertilization and discover each couple’s sperm has been swapped, mustered $356,000 in its second lap on 47 screens, banking $1.25 million for Zee Studios.

Directed by Wilson Yip, the fourth edition of the Ip Man franchise, which stars Donnie Yen as the eponymous Wing Chun grandmaster who travels to the US with his son in search of a better life, stands at $1.1 million after making $143,000 in its third lap on 33 screens for CMC. In China it’s hauled in more than $US128 million.

The Truth, Japanese filmmaker Kore-eda Hirokazu’s first film shot in another tongue and country, pocketed $136,000 on 27 screens in its second weekend and $560,000 for Palace. Catherine Deneuve plays a French star who publishes her memoirs, sparking a clash with her daughter (Juliette Binoche).

Portrait of a Lady on Fire, director Céline Sciamma’s drama about the romance between painter Marianne (Noémie Merlant) and her subject, reluctant bride-to-be Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) in 18th Century France, grossed $79,000 in its second on 33 screens and $420,000 to date including festival screenings for Madman Entertainment.

The third edition in the Dabangg series, starring Salman Khan as a bad-ass cop posted to a nondescript town where he fights goons, romances his wife and annoys his brother, nosedived after a moderate debut. The action comedy directed by Prabhu Deva took just $33,000 in its third on 20 screens and $954,000 for Mind Blowing Films.

Surveying the weekend, Wallis Cinemas senior adviser Bob Parr tells IF: “We are very happy with this year’s results thus far. Having several films working at the same time is excellent.

“In upmarket sites, Little Women is top followed by The Gentlemen with Star Wars, Jumanji and Jojo Rabbit close behind. Spies in Disguise is OK too.

Cats sadly dropped a lot more this week. Even though the public aren’t as harsh as the critics, the damage has been lethal.”