BO Report: ‘Seriously Red’ has slowish start, ‘The Menu’ is served, ‘Strange World’ disappoints

'Seriously Red'.

While Roadshow Films took local musical comedy Seriously Red wide, it had a relatively slow start at the box office last weekend.

The film entered cinemas amid a fairly busy weekend of new releases, though none exactly set the world on fire; the MCU’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever remains far and above the no. 1 title in its third weekend.

Black comedy horror The Menu fared the best, while exhibitors were disappointed by family turnout for Disney’s original animation Strange World. Luca Guadagnino’s cannibal romance Bones and All performed best at upscale venues.

Numero data puts the top 20 titles at $5.8 million, down 34 per cent on the previous weekend.

Not included the weekend figures is the result for Netflix’s Knives Out sequel Green Onion. The streamer doesn’t report BO for titles it releases theatrically, though exhibitors who IF spoke to who chose to screen the film – despite just a seven-day window – were highly enthused by the reaction.

Among those who were rapt with the response was Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, GM Alex Temesvari, who predicts the film would have played well into the new year if it had been able.

“Having the season capped at only one week is a truly baffling decision given it’s a film that has massive theatrical demand and would have given both Netflix and cinemas  a much needed smash hit before heading exclusively to their platform for streaming over Christmas,” he tells IF.

“Still, we’re grateful to have been able to run it on the big screen at all.”

Roadshow released the Gracie Otto-directed Seriously Red, starring Krew Boylan, Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale, wide on 269 screens, with the film generating $166,667 to come in at no. 7. By screen average, the film was the lowest performer in the top 10, with just $659 per screen.

With previews and festival screenings, figures bump up to $265,764.

Seriously Red‘s opening lags other local comedies released this year like Wog Boys Forever, which bowed to $821,872 from 247 screens and How to Please A Woman, which opened at $501,064 from 294 screens.

The film, written by Boylan, follows a realtor who trades in her 9 to 5 career for life as a Dolly Parton impersonator. It bowed at SXSW in March, earned the public endorsement of Parton, and toured Australia’s biggest festivals. Reviews are somewhat mixed, though among the positive, some went so far to wonder as the film would be our next Priscilla (Tim Chappel, Priscilla‘s Oscar winning costume designer, worked on the film).

Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell hopes it will pick up on word-of-mouth, noting it deserves to find an audience.

“This pre Xmas period will be tough, but hopefully it will eke out a reasonable result, albeit off a patchy start,” he tells IF.

Temesvari was less optimistic, stating: “Unfortunately Seriously Red is seriously in trouble and has clearly been rejected by audiences. I can’t see it lasting too long which is a shame.”

Cinema Nova CEO Kristian Connelly believes the film’s future lies in regional Australia, given that the film’s plot and marketing has centred on a country and western star in Parton.

“The film’s future more certainly lies in the regions, where highly-accessible recent Australian fare such as Penguin Bloom and The Dry tended to over-index.”

Connelly adds that there is considerable hunger for local comedy theatrically, pointing to the success of How to Please A Woman and 2020’s Rams, and pre-COVID, Top End Wedding and The Dressmaker, urging more filmmakers to consider the genre.

“With mixed reviews for Seriously Red it’s not clear whether the film will have strong word of mouth but with so few recent Australian comedies in the market besides the more urban-appealing Wog Boys Forever, I’d like to see more locally made comedies in the mix (with the caveat that they’re actually funny).

“When we collectively reflect on our big screen culture we tend to highlight the comedies that helped define us as a nation – Crocodile Dundee, Muriel’s Wedding, Priscilla…, The Castle, Kenny – but with a few exceptions the last decade has been devoid of successful ones. Instead we have an abundance of dramas (many of which are incredibly heavy or dark in terms of themes) or genre thrillers made on a budget with a small cast (or high body count) in a bushland setting, both of which tend to be theatrically marginalised to upscale venues such as Cinema Nova and our contemporaries.

“Given the exceptionally funny comedies and comedians that populate our small screens, I wish I could fathom why we are not seeing more of them making the leap to the big screen.”

‘The Menu’. (Photo by Eric Zachanowich. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved)

Disney’s The Menu was the weekend’s best performing new release, with $720,209 from 336 screens, or $1.2 million with previews.

Succession director Mark Mylod helms the film, a takedown of foodie culture. It follows about a young couple (Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult), who travel to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef (Ralph Fiennes) has prepared a lavish menu with some shocking surprises.

While some venues reported success, Temesvari was disappointed in its result at the Orpheum, “given how good the film is and how strong our preview night was.”

Strange World, a Walt Disney Animation Studios’ original, bowed to $600,763 from 358 screens. Featuring the voices of Jake Gyllenhaal, Jaboukie Young-White and Gabrielle Union, the film follows a family of explorers whose differences threaten to topple their latest and most crucial mission.

Australia was not alone in a middling result; in the US, the film didn’t work with family audiences, opening across Thanksgiving weekend to just $US18.6M. Globally, it has started at $US27.8 million, which means it has a long way to go to near its $US180 million production budget. Disney has chosen not to release the film in countries where its LGBTIQ+ content would have seen the studio forced to make edits, such as the Middle East, Malaysia and Indonesia.

‘Strange World’ (© 2022 Disney. All Rights Reserved.)

Dell summed the mood: “Strange World was very subdued and not the must see that Disney usually produces. It will pick up with end of year school screenings, without any competition until Boxing Day, but has been disappointing.”

Warner Bros. opened Bones and All, starring Timothee Chalamet and Taylor Russell, on 178 screens to $190,448.

Cinema Nova was the best performing venue for the film nation-wide, with Connelly noting “we not only ranked first in the nation but also more than doubled the second ranked site”.

Mindblowing Films’ Indian creature comedy Bhediya, starring Varun Dhawan, made it into the top 10, grossing $109,304 from just 66 screens.

Of holdovers, Disney’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever fell 49 per cent in its third frame to $2.8 million, moving to $22.6 million.

WB/DC’s Black Adam drummed up $283,364 in its sixth to advance to $18.2 million.

Indian crime thriller Drishyam 2, distributed by Mindblowing Films, dropped only 31 per cent in its sophomore round, earning $262,047 from just 45 screens – it has the highest screen average in the top 10 at $5,823.

Universal’s Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris collected $224,986 in its sixth, advancing to $6.9 million.

Stablemate She Said took a 59 per cent tumble in its second weekend, dropping to $166,667, with its tally now $751,739.

Most exhibitors’ eyes are now fixed squarely ahead to Avatar: The Way of Water on December 15.