'Candyman'.

In the US, Universal’s Candyman slashed its way to the top of the box office last weekend, with a $US22 million ($30 million) result surpassing expectations and hailed as an encouraging sign for moviegoing.

Here in Australia, where the country’s two largest theatrical markets in Sydney and Melbourne remain closed, results were quite different.

The MA15+ film, produced and written by Jordan Peele and starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, opened on just $148,050 from 103 screens.

That was just behind fellow horror Don’t Breathe 2, which opened on $160,597 from 103 screens for Sony. By contrast, the 2016 original topped the box office, opening on $1.3 million – ultimately finishing just shy of $5 million.

According to Numero, the top 20 titles mustered $2.5 million, down 17 per cent on the previous. That is the lowest result this year, with no title cracking $1 million.

Instead of horror, Australian audiences that could still go to the movies mostly opted for sci-fi action comedy Free Guy , which despite market disruption, seems to be enjoying good word-of-mouth. The Fox/Disney title dipped just 22 per cent in its third frame, topping the box office with $887,365 and advancing to $3.8 million.

The weekend’s highest screen average went to Mindblowing Films’ Chal Mera Putt 2, a 2020 re-release, which collected $106,671 from just 16 screens, an average of $6,667.

Roadshows 20th anniversary release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone came in at eight, amassing $100,532 from 62 screens, while Mushroom Pictures re-release of Chopper for its 20th anniversary, rang up $25,945 from 76 to bow in 12th position.

Of films still in release, The Suicide Squad held onto second position in its fourth week, with $390,094 taking the film to $4.6 million.

Universal’s Respect also held onto third, with an added $239,460 moving the biopic to $710,211.

Jungle Cruise dipped 36 per cent for Disney in its fifth, now on $3.4 million after taking another $143,936, and seven weeks in, WB’s Space Jam: A New Legacy garnered $84,470 to move to $11.7 million.

Rounding out the top 10 was Disney’s A Night House, which fell 57 per cent in its second frame to earn $68,767, advancing to $272,682.

This weekend will hopefully be a welcome boost cinemas in states that are open, with Marvel/Disney’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings due to premiere as a theatrical exclusive. The weekend will also mark a new Australian release in Umbrella’s Streamline.

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