(from left) A black-masked killer and Kris (Aleyse Shannon) in "Black Christmas," co-written and directed by Sophia Takal.

‘Black Christmas’ (Photo credit: Universal).

With Disney/Fox’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker invading cinemas this Thursday no distributor was brave – or foolish – enough to launch potentially lucrative titles last weekend.

So, no one could blame cinemagoers for ignoring the new releases which had flopped or under-performed in the US or the UK, while Universal/Blumhouse’s horror movie Black Christmas was D.O.A here and globally.

Paramount’s family comedy Playing with Fire fared best among the newcomers, but that’s not saying a lot as the top 20 titles generated $10.4 million, down 16 per cent on the previous frame according to Numero.

The Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Frozen II continued its reign, raking in nearly $3.7 million in its third weekend, propelling the total to $22.8 million. The sequel co-directed by the original’s Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee has amassed $1.03 billion worldwide, ranking as the seventh biggest animated release of all time.

Studiocanal’s Knives Out eased by just 19 per cent to $1.4 million in its third weekend, advancing to $8 million. The smart whodunit from writer-director Rian Johnson budgeted at a reasonable $40 million has minted a nifty $78.9 million in the US and $162.2 million globally.

Animated comedy The Addams Family reached $2.7 million after collecting $919,000 in its second frame for Universal, off just 18 per cent. The TV series spin-off co-directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan has bagged a fair $96.5 million in the US and $93.2 million in the rest of the world.

Starring John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo and Tyler Mane as firefighters who rescue three children, for whom they become unlikely babysitters, Playing with Fire scored a lukewarm $863,000 on 261 screens and $961,000 with previews. The Andy Fickman—directed confection took just $12.2 million in its first weekend in the US in early November and has since pocketed $43.2 million.

Universal’s Last Christmas advanced to $9.6 million after making $591,000 in its sixth, outperforming the US where the romantic drama directed by Paul Feig had a lump of coal in its sack, winding up with $34.4 million.

Disney’s Ford v Ferrari motored along to $9.2 million after pocketing $515,000 in its fifth lap. The James Mangold-directed sports drama has garnered $98.2 million in the US and $184.6 million globally.

The first-ever on-screen pairing of Dame Helen Mirren and Sir Ian McKellen is piquing interest in Warner Bros’ The Good Liar, which drummed up $498,000 in its second. With $1.8 million in the till, the classy English mystery/thriller directed by Bill Condon will easily outshine the US’s $16.5 million.

A remake of Universal’s 1974 slasher cult classic, Black Christmas took a dismal $324,000 on 194 screens, in line with the $4.4 million US debut. Released in 37 territories, the Sophia Takal-directed tale of college students who are stalked by a stranger during Christmas break, starring Imogen Poots and Cary Elwes, scraped up $3.1 million. The sole saving grace: The budget was a mere $5 million.

Alternate content release The Queen’s Corgi, an English-language Belgian animated feature film co-directed by Ben Stassen and Vincent Kesteloot, fetched a measly $147,000 and $248,000 with advance screenings for Roadshow.

Small wonder, considering the tale of a royal pooch named Rex, who gets lost and tries to find his way home, bombed in the UK in June after withering reviews typified by The Independent which sniffed: “What should have been an easy cash-in – cute pups with a splash of Anglophilia thrown in – has somehow morphed into something deeply unpleasant, and in no way suitable for children.”

Based on a 45-year-old German toy, Playmobil: The Movie clocked the fourth-worst opening of all time for a film released on 2,000—plus screens in the US: $656,000, despite a stellar voice cast including Anya Taylor-Joy, Jim Gaffigan, Gabriel Bateman, Adam Lambert, Kenan Thompson, Meghan Trainor and Daniel Radcliffe.

Studiocanal, which was among the financiers, launched the $40 million film on 207 screens, drawing $121,000 and $189,000 including previews.

The Whisteleblower, an Australian-Chinese co-production from US-based writer-director Xue Xiaolu which was shot in Melbourne, opened on 17 screens, delivering just $30,000 for Roadshow.

The thriller starring Jiayin Lei as a Chinese expat working in Australia for a mining company who, after a fatal accident, discovers that new technology developed by the company may be a health risk, didn’t open well either in China or the US.

Summing up the weekend, Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell says: “It was pretty dismal, but often that is the case before a big movie like Star Wars opens – like the calm before the storm.

“All pretty average product without great results overseas, so no real surprises, but Frozen 11, The Good Liar and Knives Out are still thriving and The Addams Family is going along reasonably.”

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