‘The Invisible Man.’

Leigh Whannell’s Sydney-shot The Invisible Man easily won the box office derby in Australia last weekend, matching its top-ranked US debut.

Meanwhile Tony Tilse’s Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears had a mid-range opening although exhibitors are expecting a leggy run thanks to word-of-mouth.

Among the alternate content releases, Universal’s Les Misérables: The Staged Concert did OK while Australian animated adventure The Wishmas Tree struggled against the third weekend of Paramount’s hit Sonic the Hedgehog.

The top 20 titles generated almost $10 million, 11 per cent down on the previous frame but 3 per cent ahead of the same weekend last year, according to Numero. Exhibitors say there is no discernible impact yet from the coronavirus.

Produced by Blumhouse Productions’ Jason Blum and Goalpost Pictures’ Kylie du Fresne, Whannell’s psychological thriller raked in $2.5 million on 322 screens for Universal, the best opening for an Oz title since Peter Rabbit in March 2018.

As IF reported, the film starring Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer and Michael Dorman drummed up $US28.2 million in the US and $US20.1 million internationally: a handsome return for a production costing $US7 million with the Producer Offset.

The live action/CGI adaptation of the Sega videogame Sonic the Hedgehog raced along to $9.2 million after mustering $1.7 million. The feature debut of director Jeff Fowler, the adventure comedy has clocked an impressive $128.3 million in the US and $137.2 million internationally.

Released by Roadshow, Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears rang up $1 million and $1.24 million on 376 screens including advance screenings. “The weekend multiple on Miss Fisher was lower than expected but mid-week trade should be stronger by comparison,” Village Cinemas national programming manager Geoff Chard tells IF. “The cross-over appeal to non-fans of the show is a big question mark; I guess only time will tell.”

Every Cloud Productions’ murder mystery/romance/adventure starring Essie Davis and Nathan Page was the No. 1 movie at four of Majestic Cinemas’ locations and trailed The Invisible Man at two.

“It really only appeals to the older demographic, so where they are more prevalent it has done better,” Majestic Cinemas’ CEO Kieren Dell tells IF.

“I don’t think there was ever any expectation it would appeal beyond the TV show audience but that should be a big audience if a good proportion of them come. I am still hoping word of mouth will help eke out a good overall result as it should have pretty even legs.”

Warner Bros/DC Comics’ Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn topped $10 million after adding $607,000 in its fourth. The Cathy Yan-directed superhero movie has collected a mediocre $78.7 million in the US and $109.6 million internationally.

The Walt Disney Co./20th Century Studios’ The Call of the Wild fetched $519,000 in its second, tumbling by 38 per cent, delivering a tepid $1.6 million.

Universal/Working Title’s Emma directed by Autumn de Wilde drew $434,000 in its third, bringing the total to $3.1 million.

Sam Mendes’ 1917 advanced to $22.3 million after making $380,000 in its eighth for Universal. The WW1 epic has amassed a lucrative $362.4 million globally.

‘Motherless Brooklyn.’

Those historic four Academy Awards continue to give Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite a second wind as the black comedy scored $363,000 in week 36 and nearly $5.3 million for Madman Entertainment.

Sony’s Bad Boys for Life reached $18.7 million after collaring $290,000 in its seventh. The cop caper starring Smith and Martin Lawrence, co-directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, stands at $406 million worldwide.

Blumhouse/Sony Pictures’ Fantasy Island is heading for the exit after taking $189,000 in its third and nearly $2 million so far. Still, with $24 million in the US, the Jeff Wadlow-directed fantasy/mystery is sure to recouping the $7 million production budget.

The Les Miz concert version filmed at London’s Gielgud Theatre, starring Michael Ball, Alfie Boe, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Matt Lucas and John Owen Jones, whistled up $179,000 for Universal.

Produced by Like a Photon’s Nadine Bates and directed by Ricard Cusso Judson, The Wishmas Tree, the saga of a young possum whose wish for a white Wishmas not only freezes her entire hometown but also threatens the lives of its residents, drew $25,000 from limited sessions for R&R Films on behalf of Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. However most exhibitors will keep the film on screens next weekend.

Writer-director Edward Norton’s 20-year labour of love Motherless Brooklyn, in which he plays a gumshoe detective who journeys into the bowels of New York City’s corruption and crime in the 1950s, took a mediocre $75,000 on 33 screens for WB.

Directed by Alma Har’el and written by Shia LaBeouf in court-ordered therapy and chronicling the actor’s turbulent childhood, Honey Boy mustered a respectable $33,000 on 11 screens for Sony Pictures.

Commenting on the weekend, Cinema Nova CEO Kristian Connelly says: “Motherless Brooklyn performed slightly above expectations following a soft US result while the niche appeal of the excellent Honey Boy was matched by its box office.

“In Carlton, where the box office was again ruled by Parasite, trade was spread broadly across holdovers, new releases and events including Les Mis, Fleabag, film festivals and event screenings.”

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