Cate Blanchett in ‘Where’d You Go Bernadette?’

In the pre-COVID-19 world, Where’d You Go Bernadette?, a drama starring Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig and newcomer Emma Nelson, was launched in the US last year by United Artists Releasing, playing widely on more than 2,400 screens.

The Richard Linklater-directed adaptation of Maria Semple’s 2012 novel made a decent $US3.2 million in its first weekend and ended up with $US9.2 million.

In the current depressed cinema market in Australia, the movie following Blanchett as a reclusive architect who leaves her family in Seattle and heads to Antarctica, opened on 40 screens, delivering a modest $62,000 for Universal Pictures last weekend.

Blame the market – especially the closure of Melbourne’s cinemas, which account for 27 per cent of the national BO and potentially up to 40 per cent of the takings for an upscale release like Linklater’s, rather than the movie.

“I was hoping for more from Bernadette due to Cate Blanchett, who delivers more often than not but right now it seems that audiences are waiting for major releases before rushing back to the cinema,” says Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace GM Alex Temesvari.

“The lack of new releases on the horizon, particularly in August is of great concern as we are anxiously awaiting the inevitable release date push backs on both Tenet and Mulan again.

“We’ve just gone through the greatest challenge we’ve ever faced to get to the point of reopening our doors but it now seems that keeping the doors open with little to no new content will be the next big challenge.”

The top 20 titles generated $2.3 million last weekend, 8.5 per cent down on the previous frame, according to Numero. By comparison, the same weekend last year chalked up $20.5 million as The Lion King debuted.

Universal’s The King of Staten Island (which bypassed cinemas in the US and went straight to digital), was No 1. The Judd Apatow-directed dramedy starring Saturday Night Live‘s Pete Davidson in the semi-autobiographical tale of a guy whose fireman father was killed during 9/11 and enters the world of stand up comedy, collected $334,000 on 163 screens.

In second spot, Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog is showing remarkable stamina, fetching $217,000 in week 23 on 166 screens, climbing to $13.6 million.

Studiocanal’s Follow Me, a horror-thriller from Escape Room director Will Wernick, which follows a social media star who travels with his buddies to Moscow to film new content for his VLOG, ranked third, making $205,000 on 153 screens.

“Given the circumstances, I thought both The King of Staten Island and Follow Me’s openings were all right,” says Village Cinemas programming manager Geoff Chard, who is overseeing just four cinemas in Tasmania and five in regional Victoria.

“Obviously consumer sentiment isn’t back to normal in a lot of areas (particularly NSW), but at least it shows there is an appetite for new release films.”

Rialto’s Korean animated fantasy Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs drew $191,000 in its third, advancing to $953,000.

Roadshow’s The Personal History of David Copperfield topped $1.1 million after drumming up $157,000 in its third weekend. The re-imagination of the Charles Dickens’ novel starring Dev Patel opened last weekend at Majestic Cinemas’ locations. “It was softer than hoped, indicating that the older market are still very tentative, or maybe they don’t get Armando Ianucci’s humour,” CEO Kieren Dell says.

Sonic the Hedgehog was the strongest of the kids/family movies and is still going quite well – just pipping another old movie in Jumanji: The Next Level.

Wallis Cinema’s senior advisor Bob Parr blamed lack of exposure for the poor turn-outs for Follow Me and Rialto’s supernatural horror film The Vigil.

“We had better success with repeats of Moana and Dirty Dancing,” Parr adds.