Rams Stills

In a boost to cinemas, Roadshow’s local comedy-drama RAMS has posted the third highest opening weekend post-COVID, behind only Tenet and After We Collided.

Opening on 298 screens and earning $809,177 ($1.27 million with previews), Roadshow CEO Joel Pearlman has touted the result, arguing it proves Australian audiences are enthusiastic to return to cinemas.

A reimagining of 2015 Icelandic drama Hrútar, Jeremy Sims’ directs the Michael Caton and Sam Neill-starrer which follows two estranged brothers as they raise separate flocks of sheep descended from their family’s prized bloodline. When a rare disease threatens their stock, they have to work together to save their sheep, their small town and their family’s legacy.

Over the weekend, Neill was nominated for the AACTA Award Best Lead Actor for his performance. The supporting cast includes Miranda Richardson, Wayne Blair, Leon Ford, Travis McMahon, Asher Keddie, Hayley McElhinney, Kipan Rothbury and newcomers Asher Yasbincek and Will McNeill.

“We are thrilled with these numbers and anticipate that strong word of mouth carries these results through to the end of the year, especially once Victorians cinemas are deemed safe to re-open,” said Pearlman.

Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell agrees with his assessment, arguing customers are “more than ready” to return to cinemas as long there is quality content to draw them in.

RAMS fits that bill,” he tells IF, noting it has been a hit at his sites.

“It is interesting that it is not just attracting the older crowd, as we expected, but younger people as well. And the sheep theme is popular in some of our rural areas! Unfortunately, not a lot of other films backing it up at the moment, although another Aussie film in Never Too Late is also doing pretty well for us.”

R & R Films’ Never Too Late, directed by Mark Lamprell, fell just 27 per cent in its second weekend to earn $124,698, taking its cume to $500,873.

For Wallis Cinemas programming manager David Simpson RAMS has fulfilled expectations, and Never Too Late is also holding strong; Mitcham is the number one site for the SA-shot film Australia-wide.

He believes local product is fine shape, looking forward to upcoming releases of Ellie & Abbie, The Furnace, The Dry, Penguin Bloom, The Crossing and High Ground.

Hayden Orpheum GM Alex Temesvari says of RAMS: “I really applaud Roadshow for staying committed to a 2020 release date for this film, especially as it’s the perfect film to lure back the older audience that has perhaps been the most reluctant to return to cinemas so far.”

Earlier this year, Event Cinemas general manager content Claire Gandy predicted RAMS would be a hit, and she’s delighted with the opening weekend results, arguing it bodes well for a long season.

“Not only does this show that audiences are confident in returning to cinemas, but that there is a real demand for well-made local content,” she tells IF.

“We also cannot wait for The Dry and Penguin Bloom; these Aussie films along with RAMS are the injection of local content that is paramount to the recovery of the Australian exhibition and film industries.”

While the result for RAMS is positive, the box office remains depressed overall, with the top 20 titles earning only $2.7 million according to Numero, up just 4 per cent on last weekend.

The other new releases were two horrors in time for Halloween: Sony’s The Craft: Legacy, which earned only $235,996 from 196 screens, and Disney’s The Empty Man which rang up just $139,543 on 156.

Billed as a ‘soft reboot’ or sequel to 1996’s The Craft, Zoe Lister-Jones helms Blumhouse’s Legacy, a supernatural horror starring Cailee Spaeny, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone, Zoey Luna, Michelle Monaghan and David Duchovny. In the US, the film skipped cinemas and went straight to VOD, earning mixed reviews from critics.

Based on Cullen Bunn and Vanesa R. Del Rey’s graphic novel, David Prior’s The Empty Man, produced in 2017 opened last week in the US with little fanfare – making just $US1.3 million.

Last week’s top title, Rialto’s Liam Neeson-starrer The Honest Thief earned $511,090 in its second frame, sitting at no. 2. In total, it’s made $1.4 million.

The distributor is pleased with the result, with Rialto CEO Kelly Rogers stating: “With cinemas, alongside so many other industries facing the most turbulent time in their history, it’s incredibly heartening to see people supporting the big screen experience. And we’re grateful to the many exhibitors who have, in turn, championed us throughout this difficult period, as we will all survive and flourish, as long as we all pull together.”

Now in its seventh weekend frame, Trolls World Tour was in fourth place earning $205,909. Overall the film has made $7.3 million for Universal – the 2016 original clocked $17.8 million.

Warner Bros.’ Tenet bagged $111,132 in its 10th week, taking its cumulative total to just shy of $12 million. WB reports that outside of the US, admissions are now at 36.8 million; the Christopher Nolan thriller has made $US347 million worldwide.

Roadshow’s City of Lies tumbled a whopping 50 per cent to $90,311 in its third outing. The Brad Furman-directed thriller has amassed $689,718.

Also taking a big fall was The Secret Garden which dropped 46 per cent over its seventh weekend to make $64,702. Overall the Studiocanal title has collected just under $3 million.

Palace’s Jan Komasa’s Corpus Christi, from director Jan Komasa, boasted the highest screen average of the week, at $3,889, or $50,552 from just 13 screens. In total the drama has made $194,288 over two weeks, including previews.

For The Orpheum, Corpus Christi was only slightly behind RAMS, with Temesvari hoping for a long and steady run.

Other recently released local titles Dirt Music and Bloody Hell have dropped out of the top 20 altogether.

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