Scream may have ousted Spider-Man: No Way Home from the top of the box office in North America, but here in Australia, Spidey continues to reign supreme.
Defying the Omicron variant, No Way Home has been the hit film of the summer, with its staggering results offering the battered exhibition sector some welcome reprieve.
Now standing at $70.3 million for Sony after making $2.7 million in its fifth frame, the film is now the fourth highest grossing of all time, surpassing 2019’s The Lion King ($64 million) and Avengers: Infinity War ($62 million). Worldwide, the Tom Holland-starrer has surpassed a whopping $US1.6 billion.
However, while those numbers may be eye-watering, the holiday period has not been as lucrative as all exhibitors have hoped.
While Spider-Man may be a juggernaut, Village Cinemas national programming manager Geoff Chard tells IF that every other title since Boxing Day has been impacted by COVID.
“Whether that be people unable to attend the cinema due to a positive case, being in isolation, or simply hesitancy of being with other people – despite cinema still being one of the safest public indoor activities,” he says.
Alex Temesvari, general manager of Sydney’s Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, agrees the trajectory of many high profile and quality films have been upended by the recent COVID-19 outbreak.
“House of Gucci and Spider-Man are performing the best for us but even these are nowhere near the levels we would expect at this time of the year,” he tells IF.
“I’m confident that we’ll turn the corner in Feb once it’s clear that cases have peaked, but for about the fourth time in two years, we’re again having to wait for consumer confidence to return and ride out a very quiet trading period.”
For Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell, holiday trading as been a “tale of two distinct periods”.
With Spider-Man launching just as school holidays began, his circuit had around three weekends of solid trading – at about 75 to 80 per cent of pre-COVID times – but since January 8, business has died down. Despite Scream opening well, he says last weekend was “extremely slow”.
“We operate in a lot of tourist areas and tourism has really dropped off sharply recently; a lot more people are in isolation due to Covid and a lot of surrounding restaurants and cafes are closed due to staff shortages,” he tells IF.
“Spider-Man has been the only well-performed title of the summer. Sing 2 is the main support, albeit not as strongly as hoped, and Ghostbusters has been reasonable as well. But not many other titles have really worked, especially those aimed at older audiences who seem to have been more reticent than the younger ones to come out. And even family movies are a bit soft, with families also impacted by Omicron, either directly or due to fear.”
Wallis Cinemas programming manager David Simpson agrees that besides Spider-Man and Sing 2, it has been a mixed holiday season.
“We had superb results for Ghostbusters, however Matrix and West Side Story failed to click,” he tells IF.
Overall the top 20 titles garnered $11.3 million last weekend, down 21 per cent on the previous, according to Numero.
The fifth instalment in Paramount’s Scream franchise bowed in second place with a solid $1.8 million from 313 screens, taking it to $2 million with previews. In the US, the cleverly marketed film topped the BO, drumming up $US36 million.
On the horror, Chard says: “Reviews and customer sentiment seem quite positive so it should hold quite well through to the end of the school holidays.”
Universal’s Sing 2 eased 32 per cent in its fourth frame, with the animated musical collecting $1.2 million to advance to $13.6 million.
Despite an additional 30 screens, Ghostbusters: Afterlife fell 49 per cent in its third, with a result of $940,517. The Sony title, directed by Jason Reitman, sits on $8.1 million in total.
Ridley Scott’s star-studded House of Gucci, with a cast that includes Al Pacino, Adam Driver, Lady Gaga and Jared Leto, now tallies $5.7 million for Universal, having collected $928,413 in its third frame.
Matthew Vaughn’s spy actioner The King’s Man, distributed by Disney, dropped 48 per cent in its second, with a result of $811,187 taking it just shy of $3 million.
Warner Bros.’ King Richard, a biopic about Venus and Serena Williams’ father and coach Richard, starring Will Smith, opened to $629,226 from 223 screens, moving to $788,388 with previews.
Paramount’s Clifford the Big Red Dog is on $3.3 million after three weeks, having earned another $442,471, while Universal’s The Addams Family 2: Road Trip has reached $1.4 million after making 415,666
Rounding out the top 10 was Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. Now seven weeks in, the film has made $14.5 million for WB, $303,638 of which came through last weekend.
Roadshow’s The 355 bowed in at 11th with a result of $266,831, or $301,951 with previews. Despite a stellar cast, including Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger, and Lupita Nyong’o, the female-driven spy thriller has faced a tough time with critics.