Warner Bros.’ Those Who Wish Me Dead was declared DOA as it opened in the US over the weekend, but Australian audiences took to the neo-Western, with the film topping the box office.
Directed by Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water), the film is co-led by young Aussie talent Finn Little (Storm Boy, 2067), who plays a teenager who witnesses the murder of his father and goes on the run with a smokejumper (Angelina Jolie) through the wilderness in order to escape a pair of assassins (Nicholas Hoult and Aiden Gillen) hired to silence him.
WB opened the film on 249 screens, grossing $1.2 million. In the US, where it premiered simultaneously on HBO Max, it garnered just $US2.8 million.
While Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell regards the weekend past as “one of the slowest of the year”, Those Who Wish Me Dead was a strong performer across his sites in regional NSW and Queensland.
“[It] seemingly appealed to a broad audience despite the MA rating and violence.”
However, the film didn’t fire for Sydney’s Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, which GM Alex Temesvari regards as a “real shame”.
“It’s such a fun throwback thriller with a top notch cast. While it has come in #1 nationally for the weekend, I don’t think audience awareness was as high as it should have been for such a strong title.”
Those Who Wish Me Dead bowed 36 per cent ahead of the weekend’s other major opener, Studiocanal’s Chris Rock-starrer Spiral, the ninth film in the Saw franchise.
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, the film premiered on just $717,598 from 317 screens.
“Unfortunately Spiral was a bust for us, with the R-rating not helping,” Dell says.
“Horror films are not generally big for us, although I remember the early Saw movies doing reasonable business.”
The horror follows police efforts to stop a Jigsaw copycat killer, with Samuel L. Jackson, Max Minghella, and Marisol Nichols starring alongside Rock, who reportedly pitched the film to the head of Lionsgate after meeting him at a wedding.
James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the Australian creatives behind the franchise, are the EPs with Rock.
On just 74 screens, Indian Hindi-language actioner Radhe, directed by Prabhu Deva and starring Salman Khan, bowed to $346,846. That gives the title the highest screen average of the weekend at $4,687.
The other key new release was Kismet/Rialto’s YA romance movie Finding You, directed by Brian Baugh and starring Katherine McNamara and Jedidiah Goodacre. It collected $161,549 from 193.
The top 20 titles amassed just shy of $6 million, according to Numero – 14 per cent up on the previous.
Studiocanal’s Wrath of Man continues to hold, dropping only 22 per cent in its third to amass $978,451. The Guy Ritchie film, starring Jason Statham, now sits on $5.1 million.
Four weeks in, WB’s Mortal Kombat fell 42 per cent with earnings of $447,838, taking the cume of the Adelaide-shot film to $8.7 million.
In fifth place nationally was local drama June Again, from Studiocanal. Starring Noni Hazlehurst, Claudia Karvan and Stephen Curry, the film dipped 27 per cent in its second with $410,155, moving to $1.3 million.
The film remained no. 1 at a number of Dell’s sites. “It especially appealed to our older demographic who love Australian films and Noni, Claudia et al.”
Australian-UK co-production Peter Rabbit 2 scored a 5 per cent boost in its eighth to earn $369,949, moving the Sony title to $20.4 million. The animated sequel, from Animal Logic Entertainment and Olive Bridge Entertainment, bowed in several international markets over the weekend, earning $US3.1 million. It opens in the UK today.
WB’s Tom and Jerry was also up in its seventh weekend with takings of $230,065, seeing the hybrid animation, starring Aussie Pallavi Sharda, advance to $10.1 million.
Now eight weeks in, Godzilla vs. Kong sits on $27.5 million for WB after ringing up $210,729. It is highest performing film in Australia since the pandemic began.