'Mortal Kombat' easily defeats the competition. A still from Mortal Kombat.
'Mortal Kombat'.

Warner Bros.’ Mortal Kombat proved the main attraction at the box office last weekend, driving almost half of all trade, and ranking as one of the highest R-rated openers of all time.

Shot in South Australia, directed by Australian director Simon McQuoid and produced by fellow Aussie James Wan, Mortal Kombat opened on $3.6 million from 406 screens – a whopping average of $8,922.

With previews, the New Line Cinema actioner, inspired by the video game franchise of the same name, is on $4.09 million.

That’s behind the opening of other R-rated titles The Wolf of Wall Street ($5.13 million) and Hannibal ($4.25 million), but ahead of Eyes Wide Shut (opened on $2.55 million), The Hateful Eight ($2.42m) and Kill Bill Vol.1 ($2.26 million).

However, Hannibal technically opened as a MA15+ film, and was moved to R after week one – so Mortal Kombat can effectively claim second place.

Mortal Kombat stars Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Tadanobu Asano, Mehcad Brooks, Ludi Lin, Chin Han, Joe Taslim and Hiroyuki Sanada, as well as local talent Josh Lawson and Sisi Stringer.

In addition to principal photography across Adelaide Studios, Coober Pedy, Leigh Creek, Port Adelaide and Mount Crawford, the vast majority of the post-production stayed in Australia, completed by more than 13 local companies across picture, sound, music and VFX.

Internationally, Mortal Kombat has already captured $US50.1 million across 38 markets, led by the US/Canada and Russia.

Here in Australia, the film was the weekend’s main event, capturing 44 per cent market share.

Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace GM Alex Temesvari says that the result for Mortal Kombat, both locally and internationally, is fantastic.

“While the film was only a modest performer for us, the strong numbers elsewhere offer further proof that audiences are more than ready to return to the cinema,” he says.

“I’m sure the R-rating had a decent impact on potential audience as there would be lots of teenage boys dying to see the film. Shame they couldn’t get by with a MA rating.”

For Village Cinemas’ national programming manager Geoff Chard, Mortal Kombat‘s performance was a welcome surprise, though he laments that cinemas were otherwise quiet.

“With the exception of The Father, every other title in the top 10 dropped between 50 per cent and 75 per cent,” he tells IF.

The weekend’s other key new release was Judi Dench and Eddie Izzard drama Six Minutes to Midnight, which opened on $432,874 for Transmission Films, or $607,266 with previews.

The British period drama, directed by Andy Goddard and written by Izzard, Goddard and Celyn Jones, is set in a boarding school for German girls on the English coast just before World War II. A British agent, undercover as a school teacher, uncovers a plot to repatriate the pupils.

'Mortal Kombat' easily defeats the competition. A still from 'Six Minutes to Midnight'.
‘Six Minutes to Midnight’.

Overall the top 20 titles earned $8.2 million, down 27 per cent on the previous, according to Numero.

The dip coincides with the end of the school holidays, Perth cinemas closed amid a snap lockdown, and restrictions on trading hours due to ANZAC Day in some states.

Second at the BO was WB title Godzilla vs. Kong, which earnt $821,945 in its fifth weekend to advance to $26.1 million, a drop of 65 per cent on the previous. Internationally, the monster face-off has now crossed $US400 million.

With school holidays finished, Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2 also took a tumble, dropping 75 per cent in its fifth to take $708,029. The UK-Australian co-production, from Animal Logic Entertainment and Olive Bridge Entertainment, moves to $18.9 million for Sony.

Similarly, WB’s Tom & Jerry dropped 74 per cent in its fourth to notch $472,271, climbing to $9.2 million.

Also in its fourth week, Universal’s Nobody dipped 56 per cent with earnings of $325,169, moving to $4.7 million.

Horror The Unholy rung up $323,628 in its second frame, a drop of 58 per cent, now on $1.3 million in total, while Cold War drama The Courier tumbled 49 per cent as it entered its fourth week, taking $307,699 for Roadshow. It has a cume of $3.7 million.

Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, in its eighth, was down 76 per cent on the previous with $197,100. The animation, now also on Disney+ via PVOD, sits on $9.5 million.

Rounding out the top 10 was The Father, which made $180,091 for Shamill in its fourth, climbing to $1.8 million.

The film picked up two Oscars today, including Best Actor for Anthony Hopkins and Best Adapted Screenplay for Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton.

Cinema Nova is the top site nationally for winners Nomadland, Minari, The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Promising Young Woman and Another Round, and CEO Kristian Connelly expects renewed enthusiasm for all in the coming weeks.

Best Picture winner Nomadland will start streaming on Disney+ and Foxtel on Demand as of Friday, and air on Foxtel Movies Premiere channel on Saturday evening.

However, Connelly isn’t perturbed by this, telling IF: “Disney had made us aware of the Disney+ launch date, so it was not a concern – after all, Cinema Nova is well known for playing films long after the PVOD date, and Frances McDormand did us a great service by telling viewers to see it in cinemas rather than at home on a small screen.”

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