‘Peter Rabbit.’

The Animal Logic Entertainment co-produced Peter Rabbit was the top title in Australian cinemas last weekend, easily beating Universal’s Sydney-shot Pacific Rim: Uprising.

But Heaven help Garth Davis’ Mary Magdalene after the Biblical saga starring Rooney Mara in the title role and Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus was crucified by some critics and spurned by audiences.

The See-Saw Films/Porchlight Films production, which co-stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peter and Tahar Rahim as Judas, generated $152,000 on 117 locations, a per-screen average of $1,300, and $217,000 with previews for Transmission Films.

“We certainly planned for a stronger result. With Easter on our second weekend we’re looking to sustain the box office and hopefully let word-of-mouth grow further, particularly into the faith audience,” Transmission’s Andrew Mackie tells IF.

Last week exhibitors lamented there was little or no interest in group bookings from churches and other religious groups, which posed the question: If the portrayal of Mary Magdalene as the 13th Apostle did not resonate among the devout why would non-believers be interested?

Wallis Cinemas’ Bob Parr said: “It is disappointing. We have noticed that other faith films in the market are softer than we have experienced in previous years.”

Cinema Nova general manager Kristian Connelly said the strongest figures came from key upscale and art house venues including Cinema Nova. “We were certainly hoping for a more bullish opening weekend but our audience is still catching up on the awards season titles Three Billboards, Lady Bird, The Shape Of Water and the like,” he said.

The drama is struggling to make an impact in Europe, taking a decent $1.3 million after its second weekend in Italy but just $770,000 in the UK, $702,000 in Spain and $626,000 in Germany. Brazil has contributed $671,000.

Checking the cumes of other Aussie titles still in release, Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country has collected a creditable $1.85 million, Stephan Elliott’s Swinging Safari finished with $1.6 million, the Spierig brothers’ Winchester made $872,000 and Stephen Amis’ The BBQ $676,000.

The top 20 titles harvested $12.3 million last weekend, up 13 per cent on the previous weekend according to Numero.

Directed by Will Gluck and featuring the voices of James Corden, Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne, Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki and Daisy Ridley, Peter Rabbit rustled up $3.6 million on 373 screens and $4.2 million with previews for Sony.

The live action/CGI animated family comedy/adventure has raked in $US106.7 million in the US and $US76.3 million in the early stages of its roll-out in the rest of the world, including a terrific $19.6 million in 10 days in the UK.

Director Steven S. DeKnight’s Pacific Rim: Uprising captured $2.7 million, a fair result considering the original film directed by Guillermo del Toro opened with $3 million with the advantage of school holidays and ended up with a modest $8.3 million in 2013.

Pro-rata, the Australian opening of the sequel which stars John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Rinko Kikuchi, Dustin Clare and newcomer Cailee Spaeny was roughly in line with the $28.1 million US debut.

Norwegian director Roar Uthaug’s Tomb Raider had a short-lived reign in the top spot, unearthing $1.3 million in its second weekend, plunging by 53 per cent. The Warner Bros’ reboot of the 2013 video game, which stars Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu and Kristin Scott Thomas, has taken a ho-hum $4.8 million.

Marvel Studios/Disney’s Black Panther climbed to $37.5 million after earning $1.2 million in its sixth weekend. The Ryan Coogler-directed blockbuster now ranks as the No.1 superhero movie of all time in the US with $631 million, surpassing The Avengers. The global total ascended to $1.237 billion, overtaking  Iron Man 3 and The Fate of the Furious.

Fox’s spy thriller Red Sparrow nabbed $712,000 in its fourth outing as it advanced to $8.7 million, experiencing mild drops week-to-week.

Game Night, the Warner Bros. action-comedy starring Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman and Kyle Chandler, reached $6.7 million after earning $426,000 in its fifth frame.

Richard Loncraine’s romantic comedy-drama Finding Your Feet has pocketed a tidy $4.7 million for eOne, scoring $274,000 in its fifth weekend

Director Pankaj Batra’s Sajjan Singh Rangroot, which stars Diljit Dosanjh, Yograj Singh and Sunanda Sharma and tells the story of the heroics of the Sikh Regiment at the Western Front during World War I, drummed up an impressive $236,000 on only 37 screens for Forum Films.

The longevity of Fox’s The Greatest Showman continues to astound as the musical drama directed by Michael Gracey fetched $228,000 in its 13th stanza, banking $33.2 million.

Director Nicolai Fuglsig’s 12 Strong is heading for the exit after making a lousy $2 million in three weeks for Roadshow.


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