It’s a rare feat for an Australian film to break through to the top of the box office, let alone for two local titles to lead the weekend’s rankings. But Penguin Bloom and The Dry have done just that.
Roadshow Films’ Penguin Bloom, directed by Glendyn Ivin and starring Naomi Watts, Andrew Lincoln and Jacki Weaver, opened on $1.5 million from 398 screens, or $1.7 million with previews, to come out on top.
Stablemate The Dry was close behind, netting $1.4 million over its fourth weekend to cross $12 million overall. Each film was produced by production company Made Up Stories, led by Bruna Papandrea, Steve Hutensky and Jodi Matterson.
For Roadshow Films CEO Joel Pearlman, both titles’ results are testament to audiences’ desire to support home-grown filmmaking. He argues “now is the time for Australia to champion its bold stories and beautiful locations with the world.”
“It’s remarkable that the two top spots of the Australian box office are currently held by Australian films – this is a rare and remarkable achievement and a further indication of just how eager audiences are to support great stories and exceptional filmmaking,” he said.
Echoing the sentiment, Cinema Nova CEO Kristian Connelly argues that Australian films are “enjoying a genuine revival in the absence of international competition”.
Other Australian titles due to hit the big screen over the coming weeks include this Thursday’s High Ground (Madman Films) and Occupation: Rainfall (Monster Pictures); documentary Wild Things (Potential Films) February 4; Josh Lawson’s Long Story Short (Studiocanal) and Ian Watson’s drama Unsound (Filmink Presents), both February 11; and Wayne Blair and Nel Minchin’s doco Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra (Icon) on February 18.
As Connelly puts it to IF: “There will be no shortage of locally made features for audiences who have rediscovered the diversity and originality of our local screen industry.”
At Cinema Nova, The Dry continues to benefit from strong word-of-mouth, and Shannon Murphy’s Babyteeth has endured as a top title, despite being among the first films screened when Melbourne cinemas re-opened in November.
Regionally, Majestic Cinemas found great success with Penguin Bloom, particularly among older audiences, and The Dry continues to perform.
CEO Kieren Dell predicts that with the release of Stephen Johnson’s High Ground on Thursday, next weekend’s results may see an Aussie “trifecta” at the top of the box office.
Wallis Cinemas’ programming manager David Simpson similarly anticipates a strong performance for the film ahead of its advance screenings tomorrow.
However, the success of local film comes as exhibitors face yet another flurry of date changes for US studio product, kicked off over the weekend by the postponement of No Time To Die, which moved from April to October. Among the many titles to follow suit were A Quiet Place 2, Peter Rabbit 2, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Uncharted, Cinderella and Morbius.
Overall, the top 20 titles earned $7.5 million, down 7 per cent on last weekend, according to Numero.
In third spot was The Croods: A New Age, which rang up $1.1 million in in its fifth weekend to advance to $18 million for Universal.
Madman’s Liam Neeson thriller The Marksman, directed by Robert Lorenz, opened in fourth position, earning $847,160 from 279 screens.
Wonder Woman 1984 fell 40 per cent in its fifth orbit to net another $817,647 for Warner Bros., climbing to $22.8 million overall.
Remarkably, the sequel has performed almost as well as original, which made $31.2 million and was far better received by critics. Theatrically, Australia has been the third best performing territory for the sequel, behind the US and China. Yet in a sign of the times, WB announced today that as of Wednesday it will fast track WW84 onto PVOD in Australia and New Zealand for $AUD29.99, or $34.99 to own. In the US, the film has just finished its run on HBO Max.
Universal comedy The War With Grandpa continues to have legs, earning $370,424 over its eighth weekend. The Robert De Niro comedy now sits just shy of $9 million.
Roadshow’s Carey Mulligan revenge thriller Promising Young Woman netted $343,471 in its third weekend, climbing to $2 million.
Each four weeks in release, Sony’s Monster Hunter fell 35 per cent to earn $228,972, taking it to $2.9 million, while Roadshow’s Dragon Rider made $208,610 to advance to $2.2 million.
Rounding out the top 10 was Roadshow’s Shadow in the Cloud, which stars Chloe Grace Moretz as a WWII pilot who discovers an evil presence on her plane. Now two weeks in release, the film has made $566,515 overall.