Danny and Michael Philippou’s debut feature Talk to Me landed at no. 6 at the North American box office, proving to be A24’s most successful release since 2018’s Hereditary, while at home it opened at no. 4 and is already the third highest grossing Australian film of the year.
A24 snapped up the Aussie horror after Sundance in what was reported to be a seven-figure deal. It released the film Stateside on Friday on 2,300 screens, generating $US10 million, doubling projections.
Over the last month, both producer Sam Jennings, of Causeway Films, and Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason told IF of their hope that the US buzz around the film via A24 would flow back to the Australian release. The Philippou brothers are also well known as YouTubers RackaRacka, with more than 2 billion views and over 6.8 million subscribers.
Locally Talk to Me, distributed by Maslow Entertainment, was bested only by blockbuster films Barbie, Oppenheimer and Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One. It generated $786,569 from 192 screens, or $920,510 with previews. It has surpassed all other local films this year besides John Farnham: Finding the Voice and Blueback.
Cinema Nova CEO Kristian Connelly tells IF the horror had a solid start at the Melbourne theatre; while it was “no match” the likes of Barbie or Oppenheimer, which continue to dominate the box office in unprecedented numbers, “by no means was it underwhelming.”
“We’re expecting a strong audience response to the film to help it maintain in the coming weeks, particularly in the face of no new direct competition until Asteroid City hits on August 10,” he says.
Village Cinemas national programming manager Geoff Chard similarly tells IF: “The WOM of on this film should be very good so we expect to see relatively small drops on this film in the weeks ahead.”
However, over in South Australia, Wallis Cinemas programming manager David Simpson tells IF the film “wasn’t as impressive as anticipated.” “Let’s hope for an upsurge,” he says.
Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell tells IF it also opened softly at his circuit across regional NSW and Queensland, noting that horror movies are not generally a preferred genre in the regions, partly due to different demographics.
“It may also signify a growing divide when it comes to the impact of digital/online marketing between Sydney/Melbourne and the rest of the country,” he says.
Last weekend remained all about the Barbienheimer double phenomenon. Exhibitors were riding high into the second weekend for both films, and neither disappointed, showing impressive holds. Warner Bros’ Barbie actually captured the biggest second weekend ever seen in Australia; quite a remarkable feat given it was not a holiday or long weekend. Numero data puts the top 20 at $28.9 million, a dip of just 15 per cent on the previous week.
The total gross box office of the past two weekends is $63 million, ahead of the two weekends from when Avengers: Endgame opened in April 2019, which reached $58.3 million.
Barbie dipped just 11 per cent $17.4 million, bringing its tally to $45.2 million, while Oppenheimer dipped just 22 per cent, bringing in $7.3 million to move to $20.1 million for Universal.
Chard says that Barbie’s hold “was nothing short of miraculous”.
“It’s worth bearing in mind too that several states were still in school holidays on Thu/Fri of the opening weekend (specifically Tasmania and South Australia), meaning the drop under normal circumstances would have been even smaller. The film is already in the top 30 highest-grossing films in Australia of all time (just having surpassed Thor: Love and Thunder), and has only been in release for 11 days, with absolutely no sign of slowing down.”
Connelly describes the weekend as a “blockbuster”, noting Barbie actually saw a 10 per cent uptick at Cinema Nova on the opening weekend thanks to additional session times and “excellent” word of mouth. It is on track to become its biggest ever film, surpassing the record set by Parasite, which played at the theatre for nine months before it was disrupted by the pandemic.
“Saturday’s all-title box office may have broken a record for Cinema Nova, following on from a record breaking week ending last Wednesday,” he says.
Alex Temesvari, GM of Sydney’s Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, describes performance of both titles as “genuinely jaw dropping stuff”.
“Both films continue to be juggernauts at The Orpheum, with Oppenheimer sliding into our top ten of all time after only two weekends and surpassing the lifetime total of Dunkirk here,” he says.
Dell notes that Oppenheimer, which runs three hours, is struggling to get as many screenings as it deserves at Majestic, or the biggest auditoria at smaller sites where there are fewer screens to play with.
“As a consequence, and with less premium screens available, we continued to see Barbie outperform Oppenheimer about 4 to 1 at our sites vs the 2.5 to 1 nationally. However we think that will mean longer legs for Oppenheimer as our patrons discover it in weeks to come, assuming we can find screen space to keep running it!”
While Barbienheimer is no doubt getting a lot of oxygen, MI7 is still holding well for Paramount. It collected $1.4 million in its third frame, a dip of just 38 per cent, advancing to $18.1 million.
Coming in fifth position behind Talk to Me was Indian romantic comedy Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, which took $403,983 from 83 screens for distributor Garage Star. Chard expects the film to hold “exceptionally well”, given reviews and feedback on the film have been strong.
Disney’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is now at $15.6 million after five weekends, having added $365,460, while stablemate Elemental is at $16.3 million after an extra $312,696.
Indian supernatural fantasy comedy Bro, an adaptation of the 2021 Tamil movie Vinodhaya Sitham, distributed by Southern Star, opened to $160,957 from 30 screens.
After nine weekends, Sony’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has reached $33.2 million, having run up an additional $134,407.’
Rounding out the top 10 was Paramount’s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, which after taking $134,333 in its sixth frame, has reached $12.4 million.
Of the other Australian titles in release, Warwick Thornton’s The New Boy actually saw a 20 per cent uptick across its fourth weekend as it released on an additional 29 screens. Receipts of $58,330 saw the Roadshow title move to $703,327.
French-Australian co-production Carmen, starring Paul Mescal and Melissa Barrera, remains in the top 50 for Madman, now at $64,379 after three weekends.