BO Report: ‘The Exorcist: Believer’ wins in another quiet weekend

Norbert Leo Butz, Olivia O’Neill and Jennifer Nettles in 'The Exorcist: Believer'. (Photo: © 2023 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved)

While no one could accuse The Exorcist: Believer of setting the box office on fire, it still mustered enough to knock PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie from no. 1 last weekend.

The Universal/Blumhouse horror, billed as a sequel to the 1973 film and helmed by Halloween director Daniel Gordon Green, premiered to $1.2 million from 325 screens. Hoyts reports success with the film in its largest auditoriums, Xtremescreen.

In North America, the title also landed atop the box office with $US27.2 million, though that result was short of expectations. Universal is reported to have paid $US400 million for The Exorcist franchise in 2021, with Believer‘s production budget $US30million.

Pro-rata, the Australian result lags the US/Canada significantly, something that is not surprising given horror films tend to underperform in this market. Global figures tally $US45.1 million.

Overall, the weekend proved to be one of the year’s slowest so far, with Numero data putting the top 20 titles at $8.8 million, down 8 per cent on the previous.

Exhibitors hope the current lull will be extinguished by Taylor Swift, with her Eras tour to play in cinemas from this Friday. Globally, the concert has surpassed $US100 million in advance sales, and by all reports Australia is no exception to the strong demand.

Last weekend’s only other major new release was EXPEND4BLES, which landed in fifth position with $683,642 from 331 screens for Roadshow.

Australia is one of the last markets for the film, which opened September 22 in North America to a franchise low of $US8.3 million. The Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham-starrer has since only made $US15.4 million in North America and $US43.8 million; it is unlikely to near its $US100 million production budget.

Summing the weekend, Wallis Cinemas programming manager David Simpson tells IF the weekend was “average at best” besides the school holiday titles.

Exorcist was frustrating, EXPEND4BLES substandard. Opportunely Taylor Swift sessions are selling out across the coming weekend.”

Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell echoed the sentiment, telling IF kids movies still reigned at his regional circuit as the NSW holidays came to a close.

The Exorcist had a decent opening, albeit patchy, doing well at some sites and not doing much at others. Expendables 4, as expected, was softer but still managed to do reasonably,” he says.

“This coming weekend is all about Taylor Swift, with tickets selling at a steady rate and expected to accelerate as Friday approaches.”

Of the holdovers, PAW Patrol 2 remained steady in its third weekend in theatres, dropping only 27 per cent to $1.2 million. Proving the school holiday favourite, the Paramount animation now stands at $6.3 million to date.

In third place was Disney sci-fi The Creator, which fell just 29 per cent in its sophomore frame to $1.1 million, advancing to $3.4 million.

Another Paramount school holiday performer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, drew $848,029 in its fifth weekend to grow to $9.3 million.

In sixth position behind EXPEND4BLES was Studiocanal’s Saw X, which dipped 34 per cent in its second weekend to $641,054, climbing to $21 million.

Universal’s Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken now stands at $3.2 million after taking $450,130 across its third frame, while stablemate My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is just shy of $7 million after taking $430,047 in its fifth.

Disney’s A Haunting in Venice is at $3.8 million after bringing in $348,847 in its fourth, while Warner Bros.’ Blue Beetle rounded out the top 10 with a fourth weekend result of $315,536 pushing the film to $4.3 million.

Australian film Shayda, the feature debut of Noora Niasari, just cracked the top 20 in limited release. Madman put the film, which won the Audience Award in Sundance Film Festival’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition and is Australia’s entry for the Best International Feature Film Oscar, out on 37 screens for $66,454. With previews and festival screenings, it stands at $149,460.

Of the other Australian titles in release, Talk to Me has reached $4.2 million for Maslow Entertainment after drawing 24,792 in its eleventh weekend.

Bonsai Films’ also opened Claire Pasvolsky’s Three Chords and the Truth on 16 screens, generating $8,977, or $9,911.

Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story remains in the top 50, now at $524,488 for Mushroom Studios after six weekends.

Australian box office data is sourced via Numero.