'Free Guy'.

Disney’s Free Guy was pipped at the post by Warner Bros.’ The Suicide Squad on its opening weekend, but the Ryan Reynolds-starrer’s second outing proved the film has legs, even in a disrupted market.

The sci-fi action comedy rang up $1.3 million over the weekend to take no. 1, a dip of just 5 per cent. By screen average that’s a better performance than its debut, at $5,297 per screen, and the result sees it advance to $2.7 million.

These sorts of figures are the new normal for films while the Delta outbreak has cinemas shut in the country’s largest markets, Sydney and Melbourne, as well as regional Victoria, NSW and the ACT.

Recent days have seen several date changes, including most significantly Universal’s No Time To Die, which has moved from September 30 to November 11.

‘Respect’.

The most successful new release of the weekend was Universal’s Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson, which bowed in third position with takings of $342,787 from 140 screens, followed by Disney/Searchlight’s horror The Night House which collected $158,266 from 110 screens. WB’s Hugh Jackman-led sci-fi thriller Reminiscence – which has received poor reviews – resonated less, bringing in $101,486 from 119 screens.

In limited release, CMC’s Hong Kong-Chinese action film Raging Fire drew $29,899 from just 14 screens, the fourth best screen average of the week at $2,136.

The market remains difficult to navigate even for exhibitors who are open, with ongoing capacity restrictions and indoor mask wearing in state in South Australia and parts of Queensland.

South Australia’s Wallis Cinemas for reasonable results with Free Guy and Respect, but programming manager David Simpson summarises the mood when he says: “A comedy would be nice to lighten everyone’s mood.”

According to Numero, the top 20 titles amassed $3 million, down 20 per cent on the previous weekend.

WB’s The Suicide Squad fell 48 per cent in its third with $650,368, moving to $4.1 million, while Disney’s Jungle Cruise, now four weeks in, dipped 41 per cent to take $226,210.

Space Jam: A New Legacy tumbled 51 per cent in its sixth frame with $122,664, moving to $11.7 million, while Rialto’s The Ice Road is now on $281,020 after collecting $64,000.

In its sixth frame, Disney’s Black Widow seems to be nearing the end of its theatrical run with takings of just $44,337, with its cume now at $13 million.

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