‘Back of the Net’

Facing zero competition from the new releases, New Line/DC Entertainment’s family superhero adventure Shazam! continued its reign at Australian cinemas last weekend.

Lionsgate’s Hellboy reboot, Universal’s comedy Little, Fox’s romantic drama The Aftermath and Laika Studios/Roadshow’s stop-motion animated comedy Missing Link all struggled, generally mirroring their US results.

Meanwhile Umbrella’s Back of the Net, a young adult drama directed by Louise Alston and scripted by Casie Tabanou and Alison Spuck, launched in Queensland and Victoria, netting $14,000 from limited sessions on 38 screens.

Don’t read too much into that because the film starring Sofia Wylie (the Disney Channel’s Andi Mack) as a soccer academy student who locks horns with the school’s star player Evie (Tiarnie Coupland) is rolling out over the next few weeks, dated for the school holidays.

Also, producer Steve Jaggi is soon expected to announce a distribution deal with a US major, which guarantees a high profile US release. The supporting cast includes Trae Robin, Gemma Chua-Tran, Yasmin Honeychurch, Christopher Kirby, Melissa Bonne and Kate Box. Screen Tasmania funded a director’s attachment for emerging producer Danielle Mclean.

The top 20 titles harvested $13.5 million last weekend, virtually flat with the prior frame, according to Numero. Directed by David Sandberg, Shazam! grabbed $3.3 million in its second weekend, easing by just 26 per cent, climbing to $9.9 million.

That’s a far better hold than in the US where the movie starring Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Mark Strong, Grace Fulton, Jack Dylan Grazer and Djimon Hounsou plunged by 53 per cent to $25.1 million, taking $94.9 million in 10 days. The worldwide total is $258.8 million, already a profitable production given the relatively modest $98 million budget.

Tim Burton’s Dumbo fetched nearly $1.5 million in its third outing, up 5 per cent thanks to the start of the school holidays, pocketing $7.2 million thus far. The Disney movie starring Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Eva Green, Danny DeVito, Finley Hobbins and Nico Parker has bagged $267 million globally, well short of recouping the $170 million budget plus hefty P&A spend.

Disney/Marvel’s Captain Marvel ascended to $38.1 million after collaring $1.06 million in its sixth frame. The sci-fi fantasy co-directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck has amassed $1.065 billion worldwide, the ninth biggest superhero release of all-time and the seventh MCU title to surpass $1 billion.

After a subdued debut in Queensland and Victoria, Paramount’s Wonder Park expanded nationally, delivering $992,000, which brings the total to $2 million. The animated fantasy adventure which follows talking animals that run an amusement park ran out legs in the US with $43.4 million.

Jordan Peele’s Us drummed up $954,000 in its third frame and $7.9 million thus far for Universal. The horror movie starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker has hauled in $163.5 million in the US and a less impressive $72.5 million in the rest of the world, a handsome return for a $20 million production budget.

Justin Baldoni’s Five Feet Apart reached $5 million after banking $948,000 in its third for Roadshow. Pro-rata, that is better than the US where the drama starring Cole Sprouse and Haley Lu Richardson as young patients with cystic fibrosis has garnered $43.9 million.

Mike Mitchell’s The Lego Movie 2 drew $857,000 in its fourth, generating $7.6 million for Warner Bros. The animated family film has scored a modest $105.1 million in the US and $80.4 million internationally.

Released by Roadshow, Neil Marshall’s Hellboy scraped up $771,000 on 287 screens, a grim start for the movie starring Stranger Things’ David Harbour as the half-demon superhero caught between the supernatural and human world. The $12 million US debut for the movie co-starring Ian McShane, Sasha Lane and Daniel Dae Kim was the lowest yet for the three-title franchise. Guillermo del Toro wasn’t part of the $50 million reboot, which critics dismissed as a watered-down version of its predecessors.

Tina Gordon’s Little, a body-swap comedy about a tech mogul (Regina Hall) who transforms back into the 13-year-old version of herself (Marsai Martin), rang up $694,000 on 165 screens. A flag-bearer for diversity, directed, starring, written and executive produced by African-American women, Little had a stronger start in the US with $15.4 million.

Co-directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmye, Pet Sematary dropped by 42 per cent to $652,000 in its second weekend, making a mediocre $2.2 million for Paramount. The supernatural horror movie starring Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz and John Lithgow has raked in $41.1 million in the US and $35.7 million in the rest of the world, not a great result, but it only cost $21 million.

Jason Clarke co-stars with Keira Knightley and Alexander Skarsgård in James Kent’s The Aftermath, which is set in post WW2 Germany. Fox Searchlight released the drama, which follows Clarke as a British colonel, Knightley as his wife who grieves the death of their young son, and Skarsgård as a German widower whose impounded mansion they share, in the US in March, ending up with just $1.4 million.

So the Australian opening of $494,000 on 108 screens and $523,000 including previews wasn’t terrible. The turnout at Cinema Nova pleased general manager Kristian Connelly, who said the film appeals to “perennially content-starved older audiences.”

Directed by Chris Butler and featuring a voice cast including Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana and Emma Thompson, Missing Link drew a feeble $204,000 on 256 screens and $294,000 with sneaks. The US $5.9 million debut for the comedy, which looks at a myths and monsters investigator who sets off to prove the existence of a mythical creature called Mr. Link, was the lowest ever for Laika Studios, which produced Coraline, ParaNorman and The Box Trolls.

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