BO Report: ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ beats ‘Thor’ reboot by a whisker

Kenneth Branagh stars in Twentieth Century Fox’s “Murder on the Orient Express.”

‘Murder on the Orient Express’.

Kenneth Branagh’s remake of Murder on the Orient Express won the weekend derby at Australian cinemas, edging out the third outing of Taika Waititi’s blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok.

The margin was slimmer than the magnificent waxed moustache worn by Branagh’s Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in the whodunit based on Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel.

Meanwhile, Greg McLean’s survival thriller Jungle and Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit both struggled to cut through on limited screens, a recurring problem for independent releases of all stripes which do not have the benefit of sizable marketing spends or brand awareness.

The top 20 titles harvested $11.8 million, down 16 per cent on the previous weekend according to Numero.

Fox’s Murder on the Orient Express raked in $3.83 million at 307 cinemas and $3.9 million with previews, no doubt helped by the stellar ensemble cast including Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Penélope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Josh Gad and Derek Jacobi.

Pro-rata, the Australian opening of the remake of Sidney Lumet’s 1974 film was bigger than the estimated $US28.2 million US debut. The international total was $45.8 million from 57 markets, but of that China accounted for $19 million.

Disney’s Thor: Ragnarok nabbed $3.82 million at 304 locations, falling by 43 per cent, which propelled the total to a hefty $26.4 million. The superhero adventure has amassed more than $211 million after its second weekend in the US and $650 million worldwide.

Roadshow’s raunchy comedy Bad Moms 2 from writer-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore fetched $1.7 million in its second weekend at 292, off 40 per cent, advancing to a respectable $6.3 million.

Peter and Michael Spierig’s Saw reboot Jigsaw plunged by 51 per cent in its second outing, typical for the genre, making $452,000 at 212. The Studiocanal release has pocketed a modest $1.9 million.

Animated comedy/adventure My Little Pony: The Movie, which features the voices of Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth and Liev Schreiber, grossed $225,000 in its second, minting a skimpy $869,000 for Madman Entertainment.

Sony’s Blade Runner 2049 climbed to a decent but not dazzling $12.5 million after drumming up $198,000 in its sixth frame at 121.

Rialto released Conor McGregor: Notorious, a biopic which charts the rise of the Mixed Martial Arts champion from his humble origins in Dublin, on 72 screens, generating $147,000,  a fair result for an alternate content title.

Loving Vincent, co-directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman’s portrait of Vincent Van Gogh, drew $117,000 in its second frame on 48 screens, banking $401,000 for Madman.

Ben Elton’s romantic comedy Three Summers did not get the kind of momentum which the largely positive word of mouth might have indicated, dropping by 51 per cent to $109,000 at 129 locations. Even so, the Transmission release which stars Magda Szubanski, Michael Caton, Robert Sheehan, Rebecca Breeds and John Waters has collected $524,000 including previews and festival screenings.

Detroit, a brutal drama set during the 1967 race riots in that city, a seminal chapter in African-American political history, took just $94,000 on 57 screens including previews for eOne.

McLean, Daniel Radcliffe, Yossi Ginsberg and distributor Umbrella Entertainment worked hard to generate publicity for Jungle, which stars Radcliffe as Ghinsberg, who was 22 when he got lost in the Amazon.  That was not reflected in the opening weekend take of $25,000 on 29 screens and $34,000 with previews. That total does not include festival screenings.