‘Men in Black: International.’

Sony Pictures and Amblin’s decision to reboot the Men in Black franchise without director Barry Sonnenfeld or stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, whose onscreen chemistry was crucial to the success of the first three editions, now seems questionable.

Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson were a winning combo in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Endgame but did not attract sizable audiences globally for Men in Black: International last weekend.

The F. Gary Gray-directed sci-fi comedy did open more strongly in Australia than in the US and most other markets, almost certainly due to Hemsworth’s fan base, particularly among females, but it’s tracking far below all its predecessors.

Meanwhile Damon Gameau’s 2040 advanced to $871,000 after earning $73,000 in its fourth weekend, now on 68 screens, for Madman Entertainment. Wayne Blair’s Top End Wedding topped $5 million after taking $53,000 in its seventh frame for Universal.

The top 20 titles harvested $13 million, down 21 per cent on the prior frame according to Numero, with little impetus from two new releases, Fox’s Tolkien and Universal’s Wild Rose. Takings were affected as Palace Cinemas discounted tickets to $7.50.

Men in Black: International drummed up $3.9 million on 504 screens, much better than the US debut of $30 million. “The weekend was particularly pleasing and demonstrated it is playing better to a younger audience and new MIB fans,” Sony Releasing executive VP Stephen Basil-Jones tells IF.

Co-starring Kumail Nanjiani, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall, Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson, the film ranked at #1 in just 36 of 56 international markets, scoring $73.7 million, led by China’s $26.3 million, South Korea’s $4.9 million and Japan’s $3.5 million.

Sensibly, Sony hedged its bets by raising 50 per cent of the $100 million budget from the co-financiers, China’s Tencent Pictures and Hemisphere Media Capital, so it could break-even if it gets to $300 million worldwide.

Disney’s Aladdin ranked second, conjuring up nearly $3 million in its fourth outing, propelling the total to $26.9 million. The Guy Ritchie-directed musical fantasy starring Will Smith, Mena Masoud and Naomi Scott has generated $263.4 million in the US and $461.4 million in the rest of the world for a global cume of $724.8 million.

Paramount’s crowd-pleaser Rocketman whistled up $2.2 million in its third chorus, lifting the total to $14.2 million. Pro-rata, the Elton John biopic directed by Dexter Fletcher is outshining the US’s $66.1 million and Oz is its second biggest international market behind the UK’s $24.3 million.

After posting the lowest ever opening in Fox’s X-Men franchise, the Simon Kinberg-directed X—Men: Dark Phoenix plummeted by 69 per cent to $845,000 in its second weekend, reaching $4.5 million.

The superhero movie starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner and Jessica Chastain has taken a dismal $51.8 million in the US and $152.5 million internationally.

To be fair, Kinberg is taking full responsibility for the disaster, telling the KCRW podcast The Business: “I’m the writer/director of the movie; the movie didn’t connect with audiences, that’s on me.”

Studiocanal’s John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum ascended to $13.7 million after scoring $710,000 its fifth. Directed by Chad Stahelski, the thriller has bagged a fair $148.6 million in the US and $127.5 internationally.

Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures’ under-performing Godzilla: King of the Monsters lumbered along to $5.7 million after making $526,000 in its third weekend, with no hope of catching Godzilla’s $10.7 million and Kong: Skull Island’s $13.2 million. Michael Dougherty’s action adventure has mustered a mediocre $93.7 million in the US and a more respectable $245.8 million in the rest of the world.

Transmission’s Red Joan dropped by a moderate 29 per cent to $310,000 in its second weekend on 135 screens. The Trevor Nunn-directed drama starring Judi Dench and Sophie Cookson stands at $1.2 million.

Winding down, Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame collected $257,000 in eighth, climbing to $83.2 million. The superhero action adventure directed by the Russo brothers has earned $2.742 billion worldwide, trailing Avatar’s $2.788 billion.

Legendary Entertainment/Warner Bros’ Pokémon Detective Pikachu moved up to $14.1 million after minting $217,000 in its sixth. The Rob Letterman-directed fantasy/mystery has raked in $420.2 million globally.

Finnish director Dome Karukoski’s Tolkien, which traces the formative years of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings author at Oxford University and during World War 1, opened with a modest $192,000 on 140 screens and $263,000 with previews. That’s no surprise considering the drama starring Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins and Colm Meaney grossed $4.5 million in the US for Fox Searchlight.

The Tom Harper-directed Wild Rose, which stars Jessie Buckley as a Scottish lass who pursues her dream to become a country and Western singer in Nashville, co-starring Julie Walters and Sophie Okenedo, tuned in with $125,000 on 63 screens and $156,000 with previews.

Tolkien and Wild Rose were the top two titles at Cinema Nova, where Rocketman, 2040, Top End Wedding, Happy as Lazzaro and High Life all did strong business. “These were great results in the face of significant discounting in the exhibition marketplace this past weekend, which we did not participate in,” says general manager Kristian Connelly.

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