BO Report: Indie releases continue to struggle while ‘Despicable Me 3’ wins

03 July, 2017 by Don Groves

Lady MacBeth. 


With school students on holiday around the country, it was no surprise to see Despicable Me 3 seize the top spot at Australian cinemas last weekend, while Transformers: The Last Knight nosedived.

The House, notionally a comedy starring Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell as a couple who persuade a friend to set up a casino in his half-empty mansion so they can send their daughter to college, failed dismally, mirroring the US debut.

Lady MacBeth and Monsieur Chocolat struggled on debut despite glowing reviews, continuing a generally grim run for independent releases this year.

Transmission’s Lion, eOne’s La La Land (with a lot of help from its six Oscars) and A Dog’s Purpose have been among the handful of indie break-outs.

Wallis Cinemas’ Bob Parr told IF, “I constantly get people saying we don’t want to see all these loud action movies but there isn’t anything else. I tell them there is plenty, so obviously the marketing isn’t getting through. It is difficult to spend too much because of the risk.”

However Parr is optimistic about a number of upcoming quality titles including Dunkirk and Paris Can Wait (July 20), The Big Sick (July 27), The Time of Our Lives (August 10), Hampstead (August 17) and Maudie (August 24).

The top 20 titles collectively raked in $14.2 million last weekend, down 16 per cent on the previous frame, according to Numero. 

Clearly first choice for vacationing kids and families, Universal/Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me 3 rustled up $3.4 million in its third weekend on 313 locations. Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, the comedy voiced by Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig and Trey Parker has minted a lucrative $15.4 million.

Poisonous word-of-mouth torpedoed Paramount’s Transformers: The Last Knight, which plunged by 52 per cent to $2.2 million in its second weekend at 290 cinemas. Michael Bay’s bloated action-adventure starring Mark Wahlberg, Laura Haddock and Anthony Hopkins has taken $8.2 million and has no hope of catching the previous edition, Age of Extinction, which finished with $26.9 million in 2014.

Warner Bros’ superhit Wonder Woman is showing sturdy legs, falling by just 16 per cent to $1.83 million in its fifth weekend on 268, propelling the total to $26.4 million.

Disney/Pixar’s Cars 3 is tracking well below the previous edition, moving along to $5.2 million after collecting $1.8 million in its second weekend on 300, down 18 per cent.

Produced by New Line, Village Roadshow Pictures and Warner Bros. and directed by Andrew J. Cohen, The House fetched $1.6 million on 225, the lowest opening for a live action film for the Saturday Night Live alumni. 

Fox’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, the fourth and hopefully final edition of the franchise, tanked in the US in May, where it limped along to $US20.4 million, so the Aussie debut of $584,000 on 257 was no surprise. Including earlier roll-outs in Queensland and WA, the total is $1.8 million.

Sony’s Rough Night is heading for the exit after taking $432,000 in its third weekend on 233, tumbling by 52 per cent. Director-writer Lucia Aniello’s black comedy starring Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Zoë Kravitz and Ilana Glazer has banked $4.2 million.

Paramount’s under-performer The Mummy reached $9.8 million after digging up $377,000 in its fourth frame on 196, falling by 44 per cent.

Lionsgate/Roadshow’s Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez On Me rang up $277,000 in its third outing on 245, down 61 per cent, to reach $3.3 million.

Paramount is also going through a lean patch with Baywatch, the Seth Gordon-directed caper inspired by the TV series, which stands at $9.6 million after earning $230,000 in its fifth weekend on 122, off by 43 per cent.

News Limited’s Wenlei Ma lauded William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth, the saga of a rich woman’s affair with her footman, as a hauntingly confronting film. Sharmill Films launched the thriller adapted from the 1865 Russian novella Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District by Nikolai Leskov, on 27 screens, generating $114,000 and $119,000 with previews.

Fairfax Media’s Paul Byrnes hailed French director Roschdy Zem’s Monsieur Chocolat as “huge fun as a political comedy about race and entertainment.” Transmission’s film starring The Intouchables’ Omar Sy as the Afro-Cuban who became one of the first black stars in France in the late 1880s, took  $74,000 on 31 screens. However, the total including previews and festival screenings is a more respectable $233,000.

Korean director Jung Byung-gil’s The Villainess, an action-thriller starring Kim Ok-bin as a serial killer who is promised her freedom if she serves as a government-controlled assassin for 10 years, captured just $32,000 on 21 screens for distributor China Lion.