It’s hard to think of a more potent box office combination than Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks – at least for cinemagoers of a certain age.
Yet their new movie The Post, set during the Pentagon Papers’ revelations in 1971, delivered solid rather than spectacular numbers in Australia and the US last weekend.
The true-life docudrama may well have a leggy run thanks to word-of-mouth and awards, but in Australia it has to overcome moviegoers’ general lack of enthusiasm for films set in US newspapers that deal with investigative journalism.
Even the superlative Spotlight, the 2016 best pic Oscar winner, finished up grossing a modest $5.6 million in Oz.
Meanwhile the critical buzz for Gary Oldman’s compelling performance as Winston Churchill helped ensure an impressive debut for Darkest Hour, which had a better per-screen average than The Post.
Some exhibitors believe The Post and Darkest Hour cannibalised each other as they appeal to the same demographics, but are confident both will have sustained runs.
The top 20 titles collectively rang up $21.9 million last weekend, down 13 per cent on the previous weekend, according to Numero.
Still No. 1 by a wide margin, Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle rustled up $4.7 million in its third frame, easing by 26 per cent. The fantasy reboot directed by Jake Kasdan has raked in $35.6 million, benefitting from the PG rating and Dwayne Johnson’s star power, and a lucrative $US667 million globally.
Young women are flocking to Universal’s musical comedy Pitch Perfect 3, which opened on New Year’s Day and has scored $15.6 million after banking $2.7 million last weekend, falling by 42 per cent.
Aussie first-time director Michael Gracey’s The Greatest Showman continues to out dazzle its US results, grossing $2.6 million in its third sojourn for Fox, slipping by just 13 per cent. The musical drama starring Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams has whistled up $16.6 million, compared with $97.3 million in the US.
Released by eOne, The Post stars Streep as Washington Post publisher Katharine “Kay” Graham, and Hanks as Post editor Ben Bradlee as they braved the White House by publishing the top-secret government history of the Vietnam War that revealed the lies told to the American people about the US involvement.
The film, which also stars Bruce Greenwood, Matthew Rhys, Bob Odenkirk, Michael Stuhlbarg, Sarah Paulson and Tracy Letts, placed fourth, nabbing $1.8 million at 273 cinemas and $2 million with previews. That’s roughly in line with the four-day Martin Luther King Jr holiday weekend tally of $22.2 million in the US after making $4.3 million in two weeks of limited release there.
Named by the National Board of Review as the best film of 2017, the drama attracted an older audience with 66 per cent aged over 35 in the US, with 42 per cent saying they came to see Streep and 41 per cent for Hanks, according to CinemaScore. The US distributor Fox is sure younger moviegoers will discover the film.
Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi streaked past Beauty and the Beast to rank as the 10th biggest release of all time globally and the top title of 2017 with a cume of $1.263 billion. Directed by Rian Johnson, the sci-fi epic earned $1.8 million in its fifth orbit in Oz, tumbling by 41 per cent, to reach $54.4 million.
Director Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour, which focuses on four weeks in 1940 when Britain’s Prime Minister changed the course of world history, captured $1.16 million at 147 cinemas and $1.3 million with previews for Universal.
In the US the drama co-starring Ben Mendelsohn as King George IV, John Hurt as Neville Chamberlain, whom Churchill succeeded as Prime Minister, Lily James as his personal secretary and Kristin Scott Thomas as his wife Clementine has drummed up a hearty $35.7 million since platforming on November 22 and expanding a month later.
A clear Oscars contender, Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri advanced to $3.7 million after collecting $1.1 million last weekend for Fox, rising by 5 per cent after adding 17 screens, now playing on 101.
Disney/Pixar’s Coco topped $8 million after drawing $1 million in its third outing, a poor result considering the worldwide total of $621.7 million.
Ridley Scott’s thriller All the Money in the World fetched $882,000 in its second weekend, off 40 per cent, scoring nearly $3 million for Roadshow.
The Fox/Blue Sky Studios animated comedy Ferdinand climbed to $11 million after banking $843,000 in its fifth frame, down just 21 per cent.
Roadshow launched Cal Brunker’s animated comedy The Nut Job: Nutty by Nature, which features the voices of Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, Bobby Moynihan, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Stormare and Jackie Chan, on 255 locations, generating a mediocre $787,000 with previews. The original movie went direct to video.
Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds, a Korean fantasy drama directed by Kim Yong-hwa, conjured up a terrific $201,000 on 15 screens, including previews, for Madman Entertainment.