It’s fair to surmise there are far more Elton John fans in Australia than followers of the Godzilla franchise, judging by the opening weekends of Rocketman and Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
The Elton John biopic easily beat the Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros monsters movie, the reverse of their positions in the US last weekend. However neither could catch the magical second weekend of Disney’s Aladdin.
Meanwhile Damon Gameau’s 2040 maintained momentum in its second weekend as Palace Cinemas extended their first weekend offer of free tickets to students on Saturday and Sunday, joined by some locations at Event Cinemas, Wallis Cinemas and independents. Screen Australia made a financial contribution to help distributor Madman Entertainment promote the incentive to students.
Gameau’s journey, which explores what the world could look like by 2040 if the best solutions already available to improve the planet are adopted, delivered $149,000 on 88 screens, off 25 per cent, which brings the total to $568,000.
As happened last weekend, its Sunday box office was up on Saturday, proving its playability with family audiences. “The film has landed exactly where we thought it would,” Madman MD Paul Wiegard tells IF.
“If it can hold screens through the school holidays in July it will get to $1 million-plus. The free ticket offer is a positive message, enabling the film to reach more eyeballs and further spreading word-of-mouth.”
The feature doc’s takings at Wallis Cinemas were down just 10 per cent on the first weekend as programming manager Sasha Close observed: “The film is definitely benefiting from the student ticket offer and exceptional word-of-mouth.”
The top 20 titles collectively rang up $18 million last weekend, fractionally up on the previous frame, according to Numero.
Director Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin conjured up $5.7 million, dropping by a moderate 24 per cent, lifting the total to $15.7 million. The musical fantasy starring Will Smith, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad and Billy Magnussen has bagged $185 million in the US and $250.9 million in the rest of the world, surpassing the lifetime grosses of Mary Poppins Returns and Dumbo.
Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman, which stars Taron Egerton as Elton, Jamie Bell as his long-time lyricist and writing partner Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden as his first manager John Reid and Bryce Dallas Howard as his mother, rang up $4.5 million and $5.5 million including previews for Paramount, outshining the US’s $25.7 million debut.
Australia posted the best opening among 39 new markets, beating France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Mexico. Understandably, the UK leads the pack with $15.3 million in 10 days.
Cinema Nova general manager Kristian Connelly says: “The saying ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ applied last weekend thanks to the bullish arrival of Rocketman. The pop musical not only opened to strong business across the country, but renewed enthusiasm for cinemagoing more generally saw most holdovers experience a solid uptick at our Carlton venue.
“Damon Gameau’s 2040 enjoyed a rise in fortunes and Transmission’s Red Joan advance screenings indicate that the Judi Dench spy drama has a solid season ahead of it.”
Directed by Trick ‘r Treat’s Michael Dougherty, Godzilla: King of the Monsters fetched a mediocre $2.6 million, way below the $5.3 million first weekend of Godzilla in 2014 and Kong: Skull Island’s $4.72 million in 2017. Those titles finished up making $10.7 million and $13.2 million respectively, so this edition will fall well short.
The action adventure featuring Vera Farmiga, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Thomas Middleditch and Charles Dance took an underwhelming $47.7 million in the US, below the $60 million most pundits predicted, and $130 million in the rest of the world. That spells trouble for Warner and Legendary, which stumped up the $170 million production budget plus hefty P&A.
John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum ascended to almost $11 million after scoring $1.6 million in its third for Studiocanal. Directed by series regular Chad Stahelski and starring Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane and Angelica Huston, the thriller has bagged $125 million in the US and $95 million in the rest of the world.
Legendary Entertainment/Warner Bros’ live action-hybrid Pokémon Detective Pikachu reached $13 million after minting $992,000 in its fourth. The Rob Letterman-directed fantasy/mystery has pocketed a so-so $130.6 million in the US but is proving more potent in the rest of the world, hauling in $261.5 million, led by China’s $90.4 million.
Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame collected $792,000 in its sixth, propelling the total to $82 million – a colossal result but it won’t match Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ $94 million. The superhero action adventure directed by the Russo brothers has amassed $2.713 billion worldwide, trailing Avatar’s $2.788 billion, buoyed by China’s extraordinary $629.1 million.
Chris Addison’s comedy The Hustle moved up to $6.2 million after stealing $358,000 in its fourth for Universal, much better than the US’s $33.2 million.
David Yarovesky’s low budget horror movie Brightburn plunged by 57 per cent to $324,000 in its second weekend, generating $1.3 million for Sony.
Wayne Blair’s Top End Wedding climbed to $4.73 million after mustering $165,000 in its fifth for Universal.
Icon launched Astérix: The Secret of the Magic Potion, a French computer-animated adventure family comedy co-directed by Alexandre Astier and Louis Clichy, on 166 screens, drawing a modest $69,000, but with festival screenings it’s banked $160,000.