Liberty (voiced by Marsai Martin) in 'Paw Patrol: The Movie' (Photo credit: Courtesy of Spin Master/Paramount Pictures)

While family audiences finally have a little more variety at cinemas by way of Paw Patrol: The Movie and Ainbo: Amazon Princess, neither new release were a match for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Free Guy at the box office last weekend.

Paramount’s Paw Patrol: The Movie opened at no. 3, ringing up $235,097 from 173 screens. Paid previews on the title have been running since August 21, so in total the animated feature is on $956,192.

The result has helped the film cross $US100 million ($137.8 million) worldwide, following openings in territories such as the UK August 9 and North America August 22, where it was simultaneously released on Paramount+.

Considering Rialto’s Ainbo: Amazon Princess is not based on established IP like Paw Patrol, its opening weekend of $105,464 from 143 locations is a decent result, seeing it premiere in sixth position.

Directed by José Zelada and Richard Claus, the animation follows a young girl named Ainbo, who, along with her animal spirit guides, sets out to save her jungle paradise in the Amazon from loggers and miners.

Other new releases included Madman’s Nicolas Cage-starrer Pig, which premiered just outside of the top 10 with $36,226 from 26 screens. Per screen, that’s a better average than Paw Patrol at $1,393.

Wallis Cinemas programming manager David Simpson says the drama had an “adequate” start, but “given how remarkable the film is, should be leading.”

Kismet/Rialto’s critically panned Die in a Gunfight, opened on just 16,440 from 49 screens, while Sharmill Films’ local documentary Palazzo di Cozzo on screen average opened well with $6,917 from just six locations. The closure of the Melbourne market no doubt has impacted the latter’s earning potential, given its subject is the city’s furniture magnate Franco Cozzo, an icon perhaps less well known in other parts of the country.

According to Numero, the top 20 titles collected $2.6 million, down only 8 per cent on the previous weekend.

The marketplace remains impacted by the ongoing lockdown in Sydney and parts of regional NSW, the ACT and Melbourne and parts of regional Victoria.

Cinemas in the regional NSW that are open must operate at only 75 per cent capacity, while cinemas in regional Victoria that are open are more severely restricted at 20 people per cinema. Masks are compulsory indoors.

Disney’s Shang-Chi opened in both states over the weekend after being in release for three elsewhere. Tickets tallied $1.1 million, down 18 per cent on the previous, moving the Marvel film’s cume to $5.6 million.

In North America, the film starring Simu Liu and Awkwafina has generated $US176.9 million ($243.5 million) and is on track to become the highest grossing film of the year, with pundits predicting it will be the first title to cross pandemic-era title to cross $US200 million. Worldwide, it is on $US320.6 million ($441.3 million).

Disney sablemate Free Guy remains the second most popular title, with the Ryan Reynolds-starrer dipping on 5 per cent to gather $473,892 in its sixth frame, moving to $5.7 million overall. Disney announced today the film will be released on Disney+ September 29, as well as digital, Blu-Ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD.

Village Cinemas national programming manager Geoff Chard reports that Shang-Chi was the clear no. 1 at all sites over the weekend, including in regional Victoria, but counters given capacity restrictions, its “impossible to read much into that”.

“There’s definitely an appetite for people to return to the cinema, but the restrictions are making it very difficult to for people to do so,” he tells IF.

“Obviously this will be a very quiet school holidays overall, with only 1 major kids title releasing (Paw Patrol), but at least with the Victorian Government roadmap we can now plan towards reopening our metro locations.”

Majestic Cinemas, which has six sites in regional NSW and two in Queensland, saw an increase in traffic as school holidays begin.

Shang-Chi opened strongly in NSW and we expect it to have great legs right through the holidays,” CEO Kieren Dell tells IF.

“Paw Patrol had a week of strong previews, and it and Ainbo were not that busy over the weekend but did well enough that we expect them to come into their own over the next couple of weeks with kids on holidays.”

Now five weeks in, Universal’s Aretha Franklin Respect continues to hold, dropping just 10 per cent with takings of $120,402, and now sits on $1.3 million.

The Suicide Squad has climbed to $5.3 million for Warner Bros., earning $119,872 in its seventh, while Disney’s Jungle Cruise is on $3.8 million after eight weekends and another $83,098.

Both in their fourth frame, horrors Don’t Breathe 2 and Candyman continue to have a similar trajectory, with the former now on $533,373 for Sony after takings of $67,360, and the latter $487,334 for Universal after $65,773.

Rounding out the top 10 was WB’s Space Jam: A New Legacy. Ten weeks in, it sits on $11.9 million, with the weekend gifting another $50,614.

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