‘Ladies in Black.’

While children’s and family titles understandably are dominating ticket sales during the school vacation, Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black looked smart in its second weekend.

Universal’s comedy Night School opened reasonably well considering the African-American cast led by Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish aren’t big stars here, while Sony’s Ice Age adventure Alpha was frozen out by the competition despite glowing reviews.

Palace’s French drama Custody fared best among the limited releases while Transmission’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot and Icon’s feature doc McKellen: Playing the Part had modest debuts.

Benjamin Gilmour’s Jirga began a platform release at nine screens, posting solid figures at the Cinema Nova, Hayden Orpheum and Luna Leederville. (See separate story).

The top 20 titles raked in $15.8 million from Thursday through Monday, up 16 per cent on the same frame last week, helped by the Labor Day holiday in NSW and SA, according to Numero.

Universal’s Johnny English Strikes Again ranked at No. 1 again, mustering nearly $3 million in its second weekend. With $7.2 million in the till the spy adventure – comedy starring Rowan Atkinson, Ben Miller, Olga Kurylenko, Emma Thompson and Jake Lacy is well on the way to beating the $12.7 million lifetime total of Johnny English Reborn in 2011.

Warner Bros’ animated comedy – adventure Smallfoot bagged $2.5 million in its second outing, advancing to $4.9 million. The film co-directed by Karey Kirkpatrick and Jason Reisig featuring a voice cast led by Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, Common and LeBron James fetched a fair $23 million in its US debut last weekend.

Malcolm D. Lee’s Night School, a caper about a bunch of troublemakers who are forced to attend night school so they can get their high school certificate, collared $1.7 million in four days, compared with the US opening of $27.5 million, and $2.1 million in five days.

Sony’s Ladies in Black slipped by just 10 per cent over the weekend, making $2.08 million over five days to reach $5.6 million. Word-of-mouth for the 1959-set comedy-drama starring Julia Ormond, Angourie Rice, Rachael Taylor, Ryan Corr, Alison McGirr, Noni Hazlehurst and Vincent Perez is excellent, according to Wallis Cinemas’ Bob Parr, who expects a long run.

Cinema Nova general manager Kristian Connelly observes: “Football widows descended on Ladies in Black over the long weekend, with the film’s week two box office increasing over opening week in locations where audiences can be a little slower to embrace Australian films.”

Paul Feig’s comedic thriller A Simple Favour raced to $7.3 million after banking $1.56 million in its third weekend for Roadshow. Pro-rata, that’s outrunning the US where the film starring Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively and Crazy Rich Asians’ Henry Golding has pocketed $43 million in 17 days.

Jon M Chu’s blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians advanced to $21.4 million, the best result so far among international markets, after whistling up $1.48 million in its fifth frame. The WB rom-com has collared $165.6 million in the US and $219.4 million globally, a handsome return on a $30 million budget.

Eli Roth’s dark fantasy The House with a Clock in Its Walls rang up $1.46 million in its second weekend after getting a nice lift from the school vacation. The eOne release starring Cate Blanchett, Jack Black and Kyle MacLachlan has collected $3.1 million here and a solid $44.9 million after 10 days in the US.

A rare miss for Disney, Marc Forster’s Christopher Robin moseyed along to $5.7 million after taking $1.26 million in its third outing, skewing younger than the studio had hoped for.

Shane Black’s The Predator reboot is wobbling, scraping up $634,000 in its third frame and a tepid $5.1 million thus far for Fox. The action-adventure starring Jacob Tremblay, Sterling K. Brown, Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Alfie Allen, Jake Busey and Yvonne Strahovski is a dud in the US, earning $47.8 million.

WB’s The Nun is now the highest grossing title in The Conjuring franchise, hauling in $109 million in the US and $220.2 million internationally for a global total of $329.2 million. The Corin Hardy-directed supernatural horror movie ascended to $8.6 million in Oz after drumming up $545,000 in its fourth weekend.

Directed by Albert Hughes, Alpha launched in the US in August and ended up with a lousy $35.5 million. So the Australian opening of $327,000 at 141 locations for the survival saga starring Kodi Smit-McPhee and Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson was no great surprise.

Winner of the best director and best first feature awards at the 2017 Venice Film Festival 2017, Xavier Legrand’s Custody, which stars Léa Drucker, Denis Ménochet and Mathilde Auneveux, rustled up $85,000 on 19 screens and $177,000 including festival screenings and previews.

Gus Van Sant’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot boasts a stellar cast in Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara and Jack Black but the drama based on the true story of wheelchair-bound cartoonist John Callahan drew just $73,000 on 28 screens.

Joe Stephenson’s McKellen: Playing the Part, the biopic of the distinguished actor, collected $22,000 on 36 screens and $32,000 with advance screenings.

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