Warner Bros’ Crazy Rich Asians, the first Asian-led, major Hollywood studio film since The Joy Luck Club 25 years ago, has been hailed as a game-changer in the US and is now wowing Australian cinemagoers.

The romantic comedy directed by Jon M. Chu dominated ticket sales in Oz last weekend while Fox’s The Flip Side flopped.

Roadshow’s action-thriller Mile 22 had a mediocre debut, mirroring its domestic performance, while Icon’s animated film Luis and the Aliens and Studiocanal’s sci-fi thriller Kin, directed by New York-based Australian twin brothers Jonathan and Josh Baker, both crashed.

Umbrella Entertainment staged advance screenings including Q&As for Mark Grentell’s The Merger ahead of its nationwide launch this Thursday, garnering healthy ticket sales at some locations.

The feature directing debut of Marion Pilowsky, The Flip Side has an appealing cast led by Eddie Izzard, Emily Taheny and Luke McKenzie.

But the romantic comedy/drama about a vain and shallow UK movie star who renews acquaintance with the Aussie chef with whom he had an affair five years earlier did not resonate, generating $44,000 on 137 screens.

“Regrettably, the buzz surrounding Crazy Rich Asians coupled with the male-skewing moviegoing on Father’s Day scuttled the chances for less-anticipated films to break out,” Cinema Nova general manager Kristian Connelly tells IF.

However Jimmy Barnes fans are enjoying Mark Joffe’s Jimmy Barnes: Working Class Boy, which whistled up $136,000 in its second weekend as an alternate release on 99 screens, scoring $652,000 for Universal.

Takings for the top 20 titles rose by 8 per cent to $12.9 million, according to Numero. Crazy Rich Asians rang up a lusty $2.1 million from previews so the first weekend haul of $5.2 million was no surprise for the rom-com starring Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Ronny Chieng and Remy Hii.

Based on the bestseller by Kevin Kwan, the modestly budgeted ($30 million) film has nabbed $116.3 million after its third weekend in the US, heading as high as $175 million, and is blazing trails for inclusion and representation in Hollywood, according to US pundits. Will there be a ripple effect here?

Wallis Cinemas programming manager Sasha Close hailed the opening as excellent, proof that smart and entertaining rom-coms are popular with audiences. Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell said the film is playing well but not getting the same level of traction in regional markets.

The Warner Bros/Chinese co-production The Meg continues to outperform all expectations, amassing $462.8 million worldwide including $151 million in China. In Oz Jon Turteltaub’s shark thriller starring Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Page Kennedy and Jessica McNamee bagged $1.2 million in its third frame, advancing to $8.3 million.

Mile 22 is the fourth straight collaboration between director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg and was intended to kick off a new franchise for US producer/distributor STX Entertainment. That seems highly unlikely in view of the US take of $31.7 million in 10 days and the Australian opening of $1.17 million.

Word-of-mouth is paying off for director Bill Holderman’s Book Club, which eased by 18 per cent to $1.04 million in its second weekend, booking $3.6 million thus far for Transmission Films.

Paramount Pictures/Skydance’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout reached $18 million after earning $898,000 in its fifth weekend. The action adventure has collared $206.3 million in the US and $442.7 million in the rest of the world, tracking 26 per cent ahead of Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation.

Spike Lee’s biting political satire BlacKkKlansman minted $499,000 in its third outing, down 30 per cent, banking $3 million for Universal. That’s an impressive result compared with the US total of $39.4 million.

After a lousy opening French director Sylvain White’s horror movie Slender Man plunged by 49 per cent to $404,000, a typical decline for the genre. The Sony release has taken $1.48 million.

Another US dud, Brian Henson’s crude comedy The Happytime Murders collapsed by 58 per cent in its second weekend, drawing $282,000. The Roadshow release limped along to $1.18 million.

Universal’s crowd-pleaser Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again climbed to $22 million after fetching $279,000 in its seventh chapter. Pro-rata, that has eclipsed the US total of $118 million. The worldwide haul is a lucrative $367.1 million.

Directed by German twin brothers Christoph Lauenstein and Wolfgang Lauenstein, Luis and the Aliens pocketed $151,000 on 166 screens and $184,000 including previews. In the US the tale of a kid who embarks on a wild adventure with three extra-terrestrials premiered on DirecTV with a token cinema release.

Despite a cast headed by Jack Reynor, Zoë Kravitz, Carrie Coon, Dennis Quaid and James Franco, Kin was a disaster for Lionsgate in the US last weekend, grossing $3 million on more than 2,100 screens. So the Oz opening of $125,000 on 147 screens was no shock.

Palace launched The Insult, Lebanese filmmaker Ziad Doueiri’s drama about the dispute between a Maronite Christian and a Palestinian refugee on 24 screens, making a solid $111,000 and a strapping $228,000 with previews and festival screenings.

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