'Falling for Figaro'.

It’s never easy to put a dent in the MCU, and with little new competition, Thor: Love and Thunder continued to lead the box office by a mile last weekend, despite easing 55 per cent.

The latest Disney/Marvel spectacle, directed by Taika Waititi, earned $7.2 million in its sophomore frame, bringing its cume to $31.9 million.

Pro-rata, the Sydney-shot Chris Hemsworth-starrer continues to perform better in Australia than in North America, where it fell 68 per cent to $US48 million. There, the drop is being attributed in part to average reviews, particularly compared to predecessor Thor: Ragnanok, also directed by Waititi.

That said, worldwide, Thor: Love and Thunder is already approaching $US500 million, despite being in release for just 10 days.

The weekend’s best performing new release was UK/Australian co-production Falling For Figaro, which bowed in seventh position. Paramount/Umbrella opened the film wide to 212 screens for a modest $193,542.

Directed by Ben Lewin and produced by Judi Levine, Philip Wade, and Arabella Page Croft, the rom-com stars Danielle Macdonald as an aspiring opera singer and Joanna Lumley as her vocal coach. With previews, it stands at $288,028.

Universal also opened Craig Roberts’ British golfing comedy The Phantom of the Open, starring Mark Rhylance, wide at 228 screens, pocketing just $161,020 ($213,428 with previews) to come in at eighth.

Both Falling for Figaro and The Phantom of the Open are clearly aimed at the elusive older 50+ demo, which as has been widely observed, have been slower to return to cinemas.

In the case of Falling for Figaro, it is still among the best openings for an Australian film this year. If Elvis, a Warner Bros studio film, is taken out of the equation, it is second only to Madman’s How To Please A Woman which bowed to $501,064 (and is now at $2.4 million after nine weeks).

By screen average, Forum Films’ Bajre Da Sitta, which came in at ninth, was ahead of both Falling for Figaro and The Phantom of the Open. It earned $64,624 from 42 screens, or an average of $1,539. Just behind it was Madman’s 25th anniversary re-release of Studio Ghibli film Princess Mononoke, which similarly made $62,563 from 40 screens.

Other notable new releases include Sony documentary Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song, which opened to $14,903 from just five screens.

Cinema Nova CEO Kristian Connelly is particularly encouraged by the docs’ performance, alongside that of Sharmill’s Finnish drama Compartment No. 6 (which earned $21,531 from two screens in its second weekend, bringing its cume to $151,958), noting it has been hard for documentary and foreign language features to get cut through of late.

Overall, the top 20 titles earned $17.2 million, down 43 per cent on the previous, according to Numero.

In the number two slot behind Thor: Love and Thunder was Minions: The Rise of Gru, which amassed $3.8 million across its fourth weekend – a dip of 39 per cent as school holidays start to wind up across the country. The fifth entry in the Despicable Me franchise has made $36.4 million so far for Universal.

In at third was Top Gun: Maverick, which at $81.3 million has now overtaken Spider-Man: No Way Home to become the fourth highest grossing film to ever be released in Australia. With the film now eight weeks in and continuing to hold week-on-week – it dropped just 21 per cent last weekend to $2.2 million – it is reasonable to expect it will also surpass Avengers: End Game, which made $84.2 million. Globally, the Tom Cruise sequel has made $US1.208 billion, making it Paramount’s highest grossing film ever.

Elvis also held well across its fourth weekend, dropping just 25 per cent to capture $2.1 million, bumping the film to $24.6 million.

The Luhrmann title entered the list of the top 10 highest grossing Australian films of all time mid last week, and the weekend result pushes it close to surpassing Crocodile Dundee 2 ($24.9 million), which currently stands at ninth position.

Luhrmann’s films make up almost half of the top 10 local earners, with Australia having made $37.6 million, Moulin Rouge! $27.8 million and The Great Gatsby $27.4 million.

On Elvis‘s milestone results, Luhrmann issued at statement last week via WB, noting the news took him full circle.

“From the first day I called ‘action’ to the last shot, through post-production and finally being able to deliver this film to the world in such a big way, it’s meant everything to me that we were able to accomplish all of that in my home country, in support of Australia. So now, to feel the support of the Australian cinemagoers for this film is so humbling, and so moving,” he said.

“I am thrilled to enjoy this success alongside all of our talented cast and crew, who were so devoted to bringing Elvis’s story to the screen. As Elvis would say, we were just taking care of business.”

Universal’s Jurassic World Dominion fell 47 per cent in its sixth frame, earning $619,342 to move to $38.4 million, while Disney’s Lightyear is now on $10.3 million after making $511,620 across its fifth weekend.

Exhibitors are positive going into this weekend, which will see the debut of Sony’s Where the Crawdads Sing, based on the novel by Delia Owens, and Universal’s Blumhouse horror The Black Phone, starring Ethan Hawke.

On the former, Connelly – whose Cinema Nova hosted an advance gala screening – predicts it should open well “leveraging its bestseller status and strong audience word of mouth.”

Similarly, Village Cinemas national programming manager says pre-sales for the drama are “looking very positive”, while also reporting sneaks for the The Black Phone have been very well attended, setting both films up for strong seasons.

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