'Girls Can't Surf'.

While Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon could hardly be accused of setting the box office on fire, the animated film held over the weekend and easily outstripped the competition.

Indeed, the box office office rankings look little different than last week, as new releases Cosmic Sin, Then Came You, Judas and the Black Messiah did middling numbers.

According to Numero, the top 20 films made $5 million, or 13 per down on the previous, with the box office sluggish ahead of new releases such as Godzilla Vs. Kong and Peter Rabbit 2 later this month.

Local feature doc Girls Can’t Surf, from Madman, bowed shy of the top 10 on $103,818 from 113 screens, taking it to a respectable $344,961 with previews.

Directed by Christopher Nelius, the film tells the story of how a “ragtag bunch of inspired, punk girls” took on the male-dominated sport of professional surfing in order to achieve equality. Featured are surfing greats Jodie Cooper, Frieda Zamba, Pauline Menczer, Lisa Andersen, Pam Burridge, Wendy Botha and Layne Beachley.

Exhibitors report mixed performance, though it naturally resonated in coastal locations.

South Australia’s Wallis Cinemas was among those who found success. “Girls Can’t Surf caught a barrel at Noarlunga! Stoked with the results,” film programming manager David Simpson tells IF.

At Carlton’s Cinema Nova the film performed respectably but CEO Kristian Connelly says “expectations were moderate given the audience hunger for films that are a part of the award season – not to mention the abundance of documentaries already in the market.”

Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace general manager Alex Temesvari had been encouraged by a sold out Q&A preview for the film, but found some demand had “burnt off”.

‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ (Photo: © 2020 Disney. All Rights Reserved.)

In its second frame, Raya and the Last Dragon dropped a mere 3 per cent to ring up $1.4 million from 342 screens, suggesting good word-of-mouth.

To date, the family flick, which was also released day-and-date on Disney+ under a PVOD model, has earned $3.3 million theatrically.

Also holding respectably is Roadshow’s Chaos Walking , which notched $838,902 over its second weekend to advance to $2.4 million.

Currently Australia is the highest grossing market worldwide for Warner Bros.’ The Little Things, with the film notching up another $492,588 in its fourth frame to move to $4.8 million.

Now three weeks in, Madman’s Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie: Mugen Train fell 45 per cent to earn $310,685, taking the anime to $3.3 million.

The Dry is edging ever closer to $20 million after 11 weeks in release; it’s currently on $19.8 million after making $275,695. With star and producer Eric Bana running Q&As across the country over the coming weeks, many of which are sold out, the film’s leggy run seems set to continue.

Disney’s Nomadland held well in its second frame, dropping just 18 per cent to take $248,535; with January previews its cume is $1.8 million. With the Oscar nominations tonight (Australia), the Chloe Zhao film will likely get a boost this week; it’s widely tipped to garner the most nods.

At Cinema Nova, the film is garnering strong WOM, and saw an uptick. “Similarly Minari, Another Round, Truffle Hunters and Promising Young Woman – all expected to figure in the Oscar race – held weekend-on-weekend or had an increase in takings,” Connelly says.

Of the new releases, Rialto’s critically panned sci-fi actioner Cosmic Sin was the highest earner, opening on $154,205 from 156 screens.

Directed by Edward Drake and starring Bruce Willis and Frank Grillo, the film – which boasts just a 5 per cent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes – is set in the year 2524, and follows a retired general who called back into service after a hostile alien fleet attacks soldiers on a remote planet. The threat against mankind soon escalates into an interstellar war.

Umbrella Entertainment rom-com Then Came You, about a lonely widow plans a trip around the world with her husband’s ashes, opened on $150,440 from 156 screens.

Directed by Adriana Trigiani, the film is based on a screenplay by Kathie Lee Gifford, who stars alongside Craig Ferguson and Elizabeth Hurley.

In its third frame, Rialto’s Boss Level, starring Frank Grillo, Naomi Watts and Mel Gibson, earned $148,101, seeing it cross $1 million.

‘Judas and the Black Messiah’.

Rounding out the top 10 was Warner Bros.’ Judas and the Black Messiah, which bowed on $128,967 from 75 screens, taking it to $138,645 with previews.

The biographical drama, directed by Shaka King, depicts the events that led to the betrayal of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in late-1960s Chicago, at the hands of William O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield), an FBI informant.

Box office may pick up this week with the film an Oscar contender, with Kaluuya highly tipped to pick up an award. His performance has already seen him win Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards, and earn BAFTA and SAG Award nods.

Temesvari was disappointed by the film’s slow start. “Such a shame because it is a fantastic film with phenomenal reviews but as we all know that doesn’t always translate to an audience turn out.”

However, the film had a solid opening at Cinema Nova, with the cinema ranking first nationally on the title.

Connelly says: “It too should enjoy an uptick following Tuesday’s Oscar nomination announcement, as awareness was limited with a fairly minor campaign for the film in the marketplace.”

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