'Tenet'.

‘Tenet.’

The prolonged Australian box office drought has broken thanks to Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which proves audiences are willing and able to return to cinemas.

The international spy thriller starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh scored almost $2.5 million last weekend on a mammoth 760 screens after making $1.5 million in paid previews the previous weekend.

So the $4 million launch is a commendable result for the first major Hollywood release since the pandemic flared in March, particularly given the limited seating and the Victorian shutdown, a market which typically generates 26 per cent of nationwide takings.

Warner Bros’ high stakes gamble in releasing Tenet on nearly 20,000 screens in 41 overseas markets including Canada has paid off, with a weekend haul of $US53.6 million.

The studio said the thriller captured in US dollars $7 million in the UK, commanding 74 per cent of the market, $6.8 million in France (a 68 per cent share), $5.1 million in Korea (nearly 80 per cent) and $4.5 million in Germany.

The openings marked a career-best for Nolan in nine countries including Holland, Ukraine, Hungary and Saudi Arabia. So all that augurs well as the film launches in the US and China this weekend.

At the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Tenet occupied four of the six screens with 10 sessions per day over the weekend. “We’re very happy with our results and I really applaud Warner Bros, Roadshow and Christopher Nolan for being brave enough to release the film under extreme and challenging circumstances,” GM Alex Temesvari tells IF.

“Their decision to do so really is the first major step to our industry bouncing back. We’ve had patrons reach out on social media to let us know they’ve already seen the film multiple times at The Orpheum, including one person who went three times on opening weekend.”

Over four days Tenet had 44 sessions at Majestic Cinemas’ five-screen location in Port Macquarie, 38 at the chain’s four screen locations, 26 on three screens and 16 on twins.

“It was certainly our biggest movie this week and biggest for a while, although the uplift from previews was not as strong as suggested, meaning the admissions per session were on the low side,” CEO Kieren Dell says.

“But it was certainly worth having a crack at maximising the sessions. Feedback was mixed, with some customers left confused and others raving.

“I watched it on the previews and then a second time this weekend. I think I got 40 per cent of it the first time and wasn’t sure, but the second time I got 80 per cent and loved it – it is a seriously good movie once it makes sense. I’ve told everyone to see it at least twice before passing judgment.”

Dell expects a long run and an an eventual tally of $20 million, especially if Melbourne cinemas re-open.

‘The Eight Hundred.’

Numero reported the top 20 titles generated $3.38 million, up 16 per cent on the previous frame.

The only other new release of any consequence was Chinese blockbuster The Eight Hundred, writer-director Guan Hu’s epic account of the defence of a warehouse in Shanghai by the Chinese Nationalist Army in October 1937 under attack from the Japanese Army.

Released by CMC, the film raked in $119,000 on just 27 screens. The first Chinese film to be entirely shot with IMAX cameras, it has amassed $US280 million in its home market, on track to soar as high as $US490 million.

Among the running totals for the holdovers, Studiocanal’s Unhinged advanced to $3.1 million, Madman Entertainment’s Made in Italy reached $800,000 in its third frame, Magnum’s Korean actioner Peninsula has $501,000 and Rialto’s La Belle Époque $428,000.

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