‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.’

In the battle of the sequels Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil beat Sony’s Zombieland: Double Tap last weekend but neither was a match for the third frame of Warner Bros’ juggernaut Joker.

Launching on 60 screens, Universal’s Judy Garland biopic Judy hit a high note while Cinema Live’s Billy Connolly: The Sex Life of Bandages did not generate many laughs or dollars and Icon’s mystery thriller Strange But True bombed.

It was a soft trading weekend at cinemas as the top 20 titles harvested $14.2 million, down 27 per cent on the previous frame, according to Numero.

Todd Phillips’ Joker rang up $4.3 million despite falling by 41 per cent, hoisting its total to $28.5 million. The WB/Village Roadshow/Bron Studios’ production has amassed $738.5 million worldwide: $247.2 million in the US and $491.3 million internationally, where it now ranks as the fourth biggest DC comics-based blockbuster of all time.

The dark origin story starring Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz and Frances Conroy will soon overtake Deadpool 2‘s $785 million to seize the all-time record for an R-rated US release.

Directed by Norwegian Joachim Ronning, the Maleficent sequel conjured up $2.5 million on 467 screens and $2.6 million with previews, trailing the original which earned $3.1 million in its first weekend and finished with $13.1 million.

The live-action spin-off of Sleeping Beauty starring Angelina Jolie, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Elle Fanning under-performed in the US, scoring $36.9 million, while the international haul of $118.1 million wasn’t great.

Given the reported production cost of $185 million before P&A, the movie is unlikely to have a fairy tale ending for Disney, unlike the original which chalked up $517 million globally in 2014.

Ruben Fleischer’s comedy horror Zombieland: Double Tap drummed up $1.9 million on 289 screens, outgunning the first Zombieland which made $863,000 in its first weekend and $2.9 million lifetime.

The $48 million-budgeted movie starring Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin launched with $26.8 million in the US, marginally ahead of the original which ended up with $75.6 million way back in 2009.

Roadshow’s Hustlers rustled up $1.6 million in its second weekend, down 43 per cent, advancing to $5.7 million. Lorene Scafaria’s crime caper starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart and Cardi B is a hit in the US, pocketing $101.8 million.

The stand-out local release of the year, Transmission’s Ride Like a Girl galloped along to $8.9 million after collaring $745,000 in its fourth outing. Rachel Griffiths’ Michelle Payne biopic starring Teresa Palmer, Sam Neill, Sullivan Stapleton and Stevie Payne is headed for north of $10 million.

Paramount’s Gemini Man plummeted by 64 per cent to $540,000 in its second frame, indicating dire word-of-mouth. The $140 million-budgeted action thriller directed by Ang Lee has scraped up $2.4 million here, a lousy $36.5 million in the US and $82.2 million in the rest of the world.

The Rupert Goold-directed Judy, which stars Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland in the final months of her life as the troubled star performs at London’s Talk of the Town, whistled up $502,000 and $788,000 with previews.

The biopic which co-stars Darci Shaw as the younger Garland, Rufus Sewell as her ex-husband Sid Luft and Finn Wittrock as her much younger husband Mickey Deans is a niche title in the US, making $19 million.

Universal/Focus Features’ Downton Abbey raked in $283,000 in its sixth, reaching $12.9 million. The Michael Engler-directed movie featuring an ensemble cast led by Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery and Joanne Froggatt has earned a handsome $164.1 million globally.

Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Abominable ascended to $8.6 million after drawing $252,000 in its fifth. The fantasy adventure written and directed by Jill Culton has mustered a mediocre $53.9 million in the US and $128.7 million worldwide.

Sony Pictures’ The Angry Birds 2 is losing altitude after making $143,000 in its sixth and $9.5 million thus far. The CGI animated comedy co-directed by Thurop Van Orman and John Rice stands at $139.5 million worldwide, way below the original’s $352.3 million haul.

Recorded in 2015 during the comedian’s final stand-up tour before he retired after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Billy Connolly: The Sex Life of Bandages fetched just $122,000 on 90 screens.

Director Rowan Athale’s Strange But True, which stars Amy Ryan and Greg Kinnear as a couple who are told by a pregnant woman that their son, who died five years earlier, is the father of her child, lucked out with $16,000 on 43 screens.

Reflecting on the weekend business, Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell says: “Maleficent didn’t really fire but Zombieland did pretty good upfront business and surprisingly managed to beat Maleficent at some sites.

Strange But True, which we only had at two sites, was not good and Billy Connolly at three sites was pretty poor.”

The regional cinema circuit’s older patrons were clamouring to see Judy but the film was not offered to Dell, who wonders: “Who knows what it might have done with a wider release?”

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