'Minions: Rise of Gru'.

With school holidays starting around the country and a diversity of blockbusters in release, cinemas around Australia have experienced their best weekend of 2022.

Spurred on by Minions: The Rise of Gru, Elvis, Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World Dominion and to a lesser extent, Lightyear, Numero figures have the top 20 films generating receipts of $25.4 million, up 10 per cent on the previous weekend.

Numbers will surely rise again from this Wednesday with Disney’s Thor: Love and Thunder finally hitting cinemas.

Village Cinemas national programming manager Geoff Chard tells IF the national box office is currently “phenomenal”, with each of the top four films showing incredible holds, school holidays still yet to start in South Australia and Tasmania, and Hemsworth on his way.

“Without a doubt, cinema is definitely back!”

In NSW, last Thursday marked the final day to use the state government’s ‘Discover’ vouchers, designed to motivate people to support arts and recreation businesses. Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell tells IF this was reflected in audience turn out in his sites in that state.

“In fact, in NSW the following three days suffered a bit of a drop from Thursday as a result of the vouchers, but were still busy – we are a momentum business after all – and all those people coming in and using their vouchers over the last few weeks ensures they see posters and trailers and get excited about coming to the movies.”

In part due to the vouchers, he Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace in Sydney had its best week of trading in the history of the venue, with the current week looking to be second best. “Of course this [Discover] promotion would have had far less impact if we didn’t also have multiple hit films in play and audiences wanting to return in large numbers,” GM Alex Temesvari tells IF.

“It certainly feels like we’ve turned a corner and it’s all a great sign for the viability and appeal of the theatrical experience.”

Dell reflects that it is the first time since the pandemic that exhibitors have had four major movies targeting different demographics, including importantly older audiences with Elvis and The Rise of Gru with families.

“The fact that nothing new released on Thursday was inconsequential, as the holds for movies like Top Gun and Elvis are just extraordinary – Top Gun going into Week 6 is still commanding larger auditoria and selling out many sessions!

Thor coming in Wed will be another fillip, especially with school holidays continuing – given the great early reviews and the star power of Chris Hemsworth and Taika Waititi, we are expecting a huge response which may even threaten the numbers for the last Spider-Man!”

The school break saw Minions: Rise of Gru receive a whopping 50 per cent boost in its sophomore weekend, with a result of $8.2 million catapulting the film to the top of the box office.

The fifth entry in the Despicable Me franchise, The Rise of Gru has so far amassed $17.6 million for Universal in Australia, a result which Chard notes it took Despicable Me 3 around 17 days to reach.

Rise of Gru opened in the US/Canada over the weekend, grossing $US108 million so far (it is a long weekend in the US for Independence Day) and has so far made $US202.2 million worldwide.

While pipped by Minions, it seems audiences couldn’t help falling in love with Baz Luhrmann Elvis, which dropped just 13 per cent in its sophomore frame, generating $5.8 million.

In total, Luhrmann’s latest outing has made $16.3 million so far, already placing it in the top 20 highest grossing Australian films of all time (not adjusting for inflation). Australia is the third highest grossing market for Elvis, behind US/Canada and the UK. The worldwide total currently stands at $US113.5 million.

Top Gun: Maverick shows no sign of slowing down, receiving a school holiday boost of 5 per cent in its sixth frame with $5.8 million. With a cume so far $72.96 million, the Paramount film looks to overtake Spider-Man: No Way Home ($80.4 million) to become the fourth highest grossing film to ever be released in Australia.

Chard observes that the holds for Maverick are almost without precedent, stating: “The only question now is how high it can go; will it be only the second film in Australia’s box office history to crack the $100m mark?”

Worldwide, the Tom Cruise film stands stands at $US1.1billion, only the second film to cross the $1B since the pandemic.

Jurassic World Dominion also held incredibly well through its fourth weekend, dipping just 6 per cent to $3 million, a result that advances the Universal to $31.5 million.

Like The Rise of Gru, school holidays also lifted the fortunes of Disney’s Lightyear, which was up 17 per cent to $1.6 million in its third, moving to $7.4 million.

Besides, the top five films, no other title cracked $1 million, or even $500,000.

However, by screen average, Signal Pictures’ Korean actioner The Roundup, which came in at sixth, actually outperformed both Lightyear and Jurassic World Dominion. The film opened to $219,903 from 23 screens, working out at $9,561 a session (Dominion‘s average was $7,653 and Lightyear‘s $3,856).

Directed by Lee Sang-yong, The Roundup is a crime action sequel to the 2017 film The Outlaws starring Ma Dong-seok. In Korea, the film has so far grossed $US99 million.

Behind it in seventh spot was Grange House’s Indian Hindi-language family comedy Jugjugg Jeeyo, which fell 44 per cent in its sophomore frame to $158,435.

Everything Everywhere All At Once continues to benefit from terrific word of mouth, dropping just 1 per cent in its 12 weekend to $158,435. The Roadshow Films title, starring Michelle Yeoh, has so far grossed $5.9 million.

Debuting in ninth position was the Hindi-language version of Rocketry: The Nambi Effect, distributed by Mindblowing Films. It opened to $84,363 from 68 screens; an average of $1,241. Southern Star released the Tamil/Telegu version, which premiered in 17th position with $42,632 from 21 screens, an average of $2,030.

Rounding out the top 10 was Disney’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which stands at $38.1 million after earning $67,450 in its ninth.

The Drover’s Wife the Legend of Molly Johnson remains in the top 20 after nine weekends in release, now at $1.8 million for Roadshow, while Madman’s How to Please A Woman is on $2.3 million after seven weekends.

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