BO Report: ‘The Predator’ reboot lacks venom while ‘The Merger’ hangs on

‘The Predator’ (Photo: 20th Century Fox).

Does the world need another iteration of the Predator franchise, 31 years after soldier of fortune Arnold Schwarzenegger first tangled with the extra-terrestrial creature?

That’s debatable in light of the soft launches in the US, Australia and other territories last weekend for Fox’s $88 million-budgeted The Predator.

Here Shane Black’s action-adventure was beaten by the third weekend of Warner Bros’ blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians although it outpaced the other openers, Roadshow’s A Simple Favour, Disney’s Christopher Robin, WB’s Teen Titans Go! To the Movies and Sony’s Searching.

Meanwhile Mark Grentell’s football-themed comedy/drama The Merger eased by 30 per cent in its second weekend, making $66,000 on 77 screens, playing just one session a day at most locations. The Umbrella Entertainment release starring Damian Callinan, Kate Mulvany and John Howard has scored $301,000 including festival screenings.

Receipts for the top 20 titles totalled $13.5 million, virtually line-ball with the previous weekend, according to Numero.

Jon M Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians advanced to just shy of $17 million, the best result so far among 29 international markets, after whistling up $2.4 million. The rom-com starring Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Ronny Chieng and Remy Hii has pocketed a lucrative $149.5 million in the US.

The Predator sees the aliens return to Earth deadlier than ever after taking the DNA of other species. Moviegoers may well have asked what’s new as the film starring Jacob Tremblay, Sterling K. Brown, Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Alfie Allen, Jake Busey and Yvonne Strahovski took $2.38 million.

Pro-rata, that is in line with the US debut of $US24.6 million, the lowest opening ever for a live-action title released on more than 4,000 screens. Deadline reported hardcore fans turned up, mostly males aged 25-plus.

Dire reviews have not helped, given the 34 per cent rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as the reboot generated just $30.7 million in 72 international markets, although it was No 1 in 25.

Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively and Crazy Rich Asians’ Henry Golding proved to be an appealing combination in Paul Feig’s comedic thriller A Simple Favour, which rang up $2.1 million and $2.75 million with advance screenings. That outshone the US opening of $16 million for the saga of a small-town vlogger who tries to solve the disappearance of her mysterious best friend.

“The Australian market is punching above its weight by surpassing the pro-rata result of Crazy Rich Asians – despite the film being in the US market for longer than the local release – as well as the opening weekend of A Simple Favour,” Cinema Nova general manager Kristian Connelly says.

“Women are clearly driving the buoyant local box office, which promises to hit high gear this Thursday with the arrival of Ladies In Black. Cinema Nova’s two sold-out event screenings of Ladies In Black last week were met with spontaneous applause and an enormously emotional audience response, with ‘happy tears’ being shed by moviegoers of all ages.”

After a muscular debut, director Corin Hardy’s supernatural horror movie The Nun fell by 53 per cent in its second weekend, nabbing $1.7 million, which brings the total for the WB release to $6.5 million. The Conjuring franchise spin-off starring Demian Bichir and Taissa Farmiga has hauled in $85 million in the US and $228.6 million globally, a handsome return for a $22 million budget.

Director Marc Forster’s Christopher Robin grossed $24.5 million in its first weekend in the US last month, the lowest opening for a Disney title in more than a year, and has since loped along to $95 million, skewing to young audiences rather than the broader family audience which the studio was aiming for.

In Oz, the family film starring Ewan McGregor in the title role, Jim Cummings as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger and Brad Garrett as Eeyore fetched $1.45 million. Including extensive previews, the total is a more respectable $2.35 million.

Animated feature Teen Titans Go! To the Movies opened in the US in July and ended up with a miserly $29.1 million. So the Australian debut of $530,000 and $785,000 on 235 screens including previews for the DC Comics adaptation based on the TV series was so surprise.

Word-of-mouth among mature cinemagoers is sustaining Bill Holderman’s Book Club, which advanced to $5.8 million after earning $469,000 in its fourth outing for Transmission Films.

Writer-director Aneesh Chaganty’s Searching got glowing reviews after it launched at the Sundance Film Festival. But that did not translate to ticket sales as the thriller starring John Cho as a father searching for his missing 16-year-old daughter with the help of a detective played by Debra Messing, brought in $425,000 at 161 screens and $452,000 with previews. In the US the film has mustered a modest $19.6 million in 24 days.

The WB/Chinese co-production The Meg reached $9.8 million after a fifth frame of $315,000. The prehistoric shark pic directed by Jon Turteltaub has amassed $505.3 million worldwide.

Paramount Pictures/Skydance’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout has banked $19.1 million after a $243,000 seventh weekend. The Tom Cruise starrer written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie has collared $761 million globally: $216.1 million in the US and $544.8 million in the rest of world, led by China’s $162.3 million.