'Jurassic World Dominion'. (© 2022 Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.)

Nostalgia has paid off at the box office once again, with Jurassic World Dominion debuting at no. 1 last weekend, while Top Gun: Maverick continues to draw strong crowds.

Making a monster debut of $12.1 million from 721 screens (through Sunday) – an average of $16,142 per screen – Dominion performed ahead of the opening weekend for 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ($10.3 million) but trailed Jurassic World’s $16.07 million weekend debut in 2015.

Reportedly the final instalment in the six-film dinosaur franchise, Universal’s Dominion sees stars from the 1993 original, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill, reunited alongside Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow, it takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed, and where dinosaurs now live alongside humans. 

Critics may not have liked the film – it has just a 30 per cent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes – but the opening weekend for Dominion is the third best this year, narrowly behind Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($14.5m) and Top Gun: Maverick ($13.8m).

In the US/Canada, Dominion bowed to a whopping $US143.37 million, while globally it has so far amassed $US389 million.

According to Wallis Cinemas programming manager David Simpson, like Top Gun: Maverick, Dominion “captured a movie-going audience that hadn’t returned to the cinema in some time.”

Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell expects the film to continue to play well into the upcoming school holiday period, noting its appeal to families and kids.

“This is the first time in over two years we have had two major movies at the same time, which is a good problem to have,” he tells IF. .

Many exhibitors reported a stellar weekend of trade with two blockbusters in the market. For Village Cinemas, it was the busiest Saturday and Sunday of the year; the biggest since Spider-Man: No Way Home released last year, and IMAX Melbourne, which is screening both films, saw over 6,000 patrons attend across Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Alex Temesvari, GM of Sydney’s Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, tells IF he sees a shift in customers coming back to the cinema in bigger numbers and falling in love with the experience again.

“The real key now is to keep the momentum going and make sure the film release pipeline is stacked full of must see big screen content aimed at a variety of audiences,” he says.

The only other new release to make the top 10 this week, in 10th position, was Southern Star’s Indian Telugu-language rom-com Ante Sundharaniki. Starring Nani as a Hindu Brahmin guy who falls for a Christian girl (Nazriya Nazim), the film grossed $134,831 from just 55 screens for an average of $2,451.

According to Numero data, the top 20 titles harvested a healthy $23.3 million through Sunday, up 36 per cent on the previous, though the vast majority of that came from both Jurassic World: Dominion and Top Gun: Maverick.

In all states except Western Australia and Queensland, Monday was a public holiday, taking the result to $28.9 million.

Top Gun: Maverick held up well against the dinosaurs in its third weekend, dropping just 32 per cent to collect $8.9 million. That result takes the Paramount title to $45.5 million. Globally, the tally for the Tom Cruise-starrer has now reached $US747 million, with Australia the third best performing international market behind the UK and Japan.

Dell notes the film has continued to sell out sessions on his circuit, playing to a broad audience, “from the older ones who remembered the original through to the kids, teenagers and young adults who were looking for a great action movie that had to be seen on the big screen.”

At the Hayden Orpheum, the film is now the second highest grossing of the pandemic era, with third week results improving on week two thanks to “overwhelmingly positive word of mouth.”

“It might end up in our top 10-15 films of all time when all is said and done,” Temesvari tells IF.

All titles behind Dominion and Maverick faced a steep drop off, with Disney’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness the next best performer of the weekend, generating $532,709 in its sixth frame, advancing to $37.3 million overall.

Both now 11 weeks in, both Universal’s The Bad Guys and Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2 remain in the top five. The former made $236,407 to move to $15.7 million, while the Sega sequel gathered another $196,270 to grow to $22.5 million.

Behind them was another title that has shown remarkable staying power, Roadshow’s Everything Everywhere All at Once. Now nine weeks in, the Michelle Yeoh film continues to benefit from strong word of mouth, generating $162,180 to push its tally to $5.2 million. Australia is the third best performing market for the film behind US/Canada and the UK.

Kollywood action-adventure Vikram tumbled 77 per cent in its sophomore weekend, ringing up $145,536, a result that brings it just shy of $1 million at $937,852.

Downton Abbey: A New Era now stands at $7.8 million for Universal after seven orbits, with a weekend result of $136,036.

Local Madman title How to Please A Woman, from director Renee Webster, has now cracked the $2 million mark after generating $135,692 in its fourth frame.

Just outside of the top 10, in 11th position, was Leah Purcell’s The Drover’s Wife the Legend of Molly Johnson. It generated $104,244 in its sixth weekend to move to $1.3 million for Roadshow.

As for the weeks ahead, exhibitors are buoyant about Lightyear, Minions: The Rise of Gru, Elvis and Thor: Love and Thunder.

Village Cinemas programming manager Geoff Chard tells IF that pre-sales for Elvis are “miles ahead” of similar titles like Rocketman, A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody.

Dell says these titles “should add to the feeling of normality with a range of big movies all running simultaneously leading into the crucial July holiday period.”

Or as Simpson puts it, there will be “something for one and all.”

All figures in this story are through Sunday.

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