BO Report: ‘Napoleon’ conquers ‘Hunger Games’

Joaquin Phoenix in 'Napoleon'. (Photo by: Aidan Monaghan, courtesy Apple Original Films and Columbia Pictures)

Ridley Scott’s historical epic Napoleon emerged the victor at the box office last weekend, outpacing Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

That is a reversal of the result seen in North America, where the Hunger Games prequel came out on top over the Thanksgiving weekend.

An AppleTV+ Original film, theatrically released by Sony, Napoleon collected just over $4 million in Australia from 598 screens. The opening is almost double that of Apple’s other recent theatrical swing, Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, which started $2.2 million.

In the US/Canada, Napoleon took $33.1 million over the five-day weekend, with the global result $US78.8 million.

The epic, which stars Joaquin Phoenix in the titular role alongside Vanessa Kirby as wife Josephine, is reported to have a production budget of $US200 million. It has divided critics, with a 61 per cent Rotten Tomatoes score. In France, critics have been particularly harsh, leading Scott to tell the BBC: “The French don’t even like themselves”.

Local exhibitors are pleased with the result, which exceeded expectations of many.

Village Cinemas head of content Geoff Chard notes the Australian result is ahead of the US pro-rata. “The admissions in our Gold Class cinemas were very strong too, as this kind of film lends itself to the premium experience,” he tells IF”.

Kieren Dell, CEO of regional NSW and Queensland circuit Majestic Cinemas, says the film “suits our older demographic who like historical epics and true stories”, while Wallis Cinemas head of programming services David Simpson says given the “lousy reviews” it was “jubilant” with the weekend’s turnout.

Despite getting pipped by Napoleon, Roadshow’s The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes dropped only 33 per cent in its second weekend to earn $3.4 million, bringing the film to $10.6 million.

Together, the two titles proved the weekend’s main events, with a combined market share of 73 per cent. No other film made over $1 million.

Besides Napoleon, the only other new release in the top 10 was Bounty Films’ Carl Barron: Skating Rink for Flies. Released in cinemas for one night only last Friday, the Aussie comedian’s stand-up special landed at tenth position with $85,616 from 77 screens.

In at 11th was Kitty Green’s latest, The Royal Hotel, which Transmission opened on 79 screens for $77,746, bringing the local film to $118,041 with previews and festival screenings.

Numero data puts the top 20 films at $9.8 million, up 8 per cent on the previous weekend. This does not include previews for Trolls Band Together, which are understood to have been just below $1 million.

Officially in third position behind Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was Disney’s The Marvels, which drew $549,410 in its third weekend, bringing its total to $5.9 million.

Universal’s Five Night’s at Freddy’s took $420,176 in its fifth weekend, moving to $13.7 million. Globally the horror has now reached $US283.1 million, making it the highest grossing Blumhouse horror of all time, overtaking Split ($US278.7 million).

Saltburn, distributed in Australia by Warner Bros., saw a strong hold across its sophomore weekend, dropping just 5 per cent to $324,839, bringing its tally to $863,853.

It remained the top film at Melbourne’s Cinema Nova, where CEO Kristian Connelly explains it enjoyed an 12 per cent uptick due to “outstanding” word of mouth.

Chard agrees it was the weekend’s standout hold, stating: “The incredible WOM is really kicking in, as audiences are discovering this gem of a film.”

R-rated horror Thanksgiving, also in its second weekend, dropped 43 per cent, with the Sony title now at $737,424 after bringing in an additional $152,670.

Universal’s Killers of the Flower Moon has crossed $7.5 million after ringing up $152,670 in its sixth weekend, while Indian action thriller Tiger 3 has reached $1.5 million for Mind Blowing Films after collecting $148,408 in its third.

While Scorsese’s film is winding down at most cinemas nationally – it lost 71 screens last weekend – Connelly notes it saw a 20 per cent improvement on the prior frame at the Nova. He attributes this to Oscar buzz as the awards season ramps up. Another likely Best Picture nominee, Past Lives, also rallied by 10 per cent at the venue despite now being in its 13th week.

Coming in at no. 9 was Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, which is now just shy of $9 million for Trafalgar Releasing after taking $87,830.

Of the Australian titles in the top 50, Scott Hicks doco The Musical Mind debuted at no. 25 for Bonsai Films, generating $12,144 from 52 screens, taking it to $16,113 with previews.

Scarygirl has reached $325,411 for Madman after five weekends, bringing in an extra $7,041.

This weekend will see the release of Trolls Band Together, Bottoms, Kiwi film Uproar and Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé.

Simpson says if the Trolls previews are anything to go by “we are in for a vibrant holiday period.”

Australian box office data is via Numero.