'Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie: Mugen Train'.

Japan’s highest grossing feature film of all time, Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie: Mugen Train, is also proving a hit with Australian audiences.

Released via Madman Entertainment, the anime topped the box office with a $1.9 million opening from 201 screens over the weekend; a whopping average of $9,270.

A follow-up to the 2019 TV series Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, based on Koyoharu Gotoge’s comic, the story follows Tanjiro Kamado’s journey as a demon slayer after his family is brutally murdered and his sister is turned into a demon.

Released in Japan in October last year, the film grossed more than ¥37.8 billion, or $USD362 million.

The Australian release includes screenings in IMAX and 4DX formats. In Japan, the film smashed IMAX records, and its international success has helped boost numbers locally.

“The movie’s many fight sequences look fantastic on the giant screen and we’re very pleased with numbers we’re seeing. We’re hopeful that these levels will continue into the second weekend as word of mouth about the IMAX presentation continues to spread,” IMAX Melbourne general manager Richard Morrison tells IF.

Demon Slayer follows our similarly strong screenings of Akira, for which we’ve had several sold-out sessions since opening the movie in December. The success of both films at IMAX and also nationally shows that there’s a growing appetite for more anime content on the big screens.”

Demon Slayer was also the number one film for Village Cinemas’ circuit.

“Whilst the vast bulk of the national business came from the city centre complexes, many of our cinemas still performed well and the film was #1 at every location we screened the film at,” national film programming manager Geoff Chard tells IF.

The weekend’s other new releases included Rialto’s Boss Level and Icon’s Blackbird, which both landed soft; making $409,303 from 240 screens and $216,309 from 231 screens respectively.

Sci-fi actioner Boss Level, from director Joe Carnahan, stars Frank Grillo alongside Naomi Watts and Mel Gibson. Grillo plays a retired military operative who finds himself in a never-ending time loop on the day of his death.

Roger Michell’s Blackbird, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019, stars Susan Sarandon as a dying mother who assembles her family to spend a final weekend together before she ends her life. Joining Sarandon in the star-studded cast are Kate Winslet, Mia Wasikowska and Sam Neill.

Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace GM Alex Temesvari observes: “Blackbird was only so so unfortunately, which is a shame being a great little film with a fantastic cast.”

However, for regional NSW’s Majestic Cinemas, Blackbird surprised, especially in more upmarket sites, and Boss Level proved strong with action-driven audiences.

“Both were in the top 3-4 movies at the appropriate sites, with the other positions almost everywhere taken by the great Aussie trio of The Dry, Penguin Bloom and High Ground, all still going strong,” CEO Kieren Dell tells IF.

“But overall, the box office was soft. We are definitely looking forward to Raya and Chaos Walking to pep things up a bit this coming week as we start to gain some momentum heading into Easter.”

Overall the weekend’s top 20 titles made $5.6 million, up 19 per cent on the previous, according to Numero.

Warner Bros.’ The Little Things was the second best performer, falling 27 per cent in its second frame to earn $968,703. So far the crime thriller, starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto has made $3.2 million.

Robert Connolly’s mystery The Dry remains the best performing local title, earning $435,720 over its ninth weekend, with a cume now of $18.8 million.

Predicted to finish above $20 million for Roadshow, the film is now the 14th highest grossing Australian film of all time. Or as as Wallis Cinemas’ programming manager David Simpson puts it, there is “no sign of The Dry drying up any time soon.”

Fellow local title Penguin Bloom finished behind Boss Level, earing $291,899 over its sixth weekend. Overall, the Naomi Watts-starrer has amassed $6.8 million for Roadshow.

Yet another title with staying power is Universal’s The Croods: A New Age, bolstered by the lack of other options for families. The animated film made $225,082 over its 10th weekend (a fall of just 10 per cent), seeing the sequel crack $21 million.

Stephen Johnson’s High Ground notched $169,442 in its fifth weekend, advancing to $2.5 million for Madman.

Minari, the winner of today’s Golden Globe Foreign Language Award, earned $161,334 in its second frame, with a cume of $514,484.

The Korean-American family drama is enjoying an awards-season run at Cinema Nova, as is Promising Young Woman, which rounded out the national top 10 with earnings of $133,638, now on $3.8 million for Roadshow,.

Similarly, Cinema Nova CEO Kristian Connelly predicts a solid reopening this week for fellow Oscar hopeful, Disney’s Nomadland, winner of today’s Golden Globes Drama Motion Picture award.

Among the other Australian films in release, Studiocanal’s Long Story Short, directed by Josh Lawson, brought in $75,203 in its third orbit, taking it to $694,036 overall.

In its second weekend, Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra, earnt $25,796, advancing to $139,998 for Icon.

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