Australian critics scorned Unhinged but audiences turned out last weekend for the road rage thriller starring Russell Crowe and Caren Pistorius.

The Studiocanal release, which stars Pistorius as a single mother who incurs the wrath of Crowe’s character, drummed up $802,000 on more than 200 screens.

Even so, ticket sales remain depressed with Melbourne’s cinemas closed (26 per cent of the market) and most locations operating on reduced sessions and with capacity limits.

The top 20 titles generated nearly $2 million, 11 per cent up on the previous frame, according to Numero, but nearly 90 per cent below the same weekend a year ago – $17.8 million – when Universal launched Fast & Furious Hobbs and Shaw.

Clearly the pandemic is deterring some cinemagoers. “I think that the fear of what is happening with COVID-19 is impacting audiences still, especially the older audience,” Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell tells IF.

“Most of the other movies we have on are aimed at that audience. For the first time yesterday, I saw people coming in with masks, so clearly the fear of a second wave is real in NSW and impacting on activities outside the home.”

Studiocanal CEO Elizabeth Trotman said: “It’s encouraging to see the Australian public returning to the cinema for their entertainment. We are excited and pleased to be able to support the industry by releasing Unhinged.”

The Derrick Borte-directed thriller’s top location was the Blacktown drive-in and it was a clear No. 1 at Village Cinemas’ Victorian country locations and in Tasmania.

Village Cinemas programming manager Geoff Chard said: “Given the film essentially has a full month to itself before Tenet opens, it could easily gross $3 million – $4 million, a respectable result under normal circumstances, let alone with cinemas in Melbourne closed and discounting happening almost across the board.”

With Victoria in lockdown, Village is closing its cinemas in Geelong, Morwell and Shepparton and partner cinemas at Bendigo and Warrnambool this week.

Among the other wide releases, Roadshow’s The Secret: Dare to Dream was a distant second, collecting $226,000 on 233 screens.

Directed by Andy Tennant, the adaptation of Rhonda Byrne’s self-help book The Secret follows Katie Holmes as Miranda, a young widow trying to make ends meet while raising her three children. A devastating storm brings an enormous challenge and a mysterious man Bray (Josh Lucas) into her’s life.

Rialto launched 23 Walks, a British romance written and directed by Paul Morrison, on 138 screens, taking a feeble $36,000. Alison Steadman and Dave Johns play a a couple in their sixties who get to know one another over the course of 23 dog walks.

Universal’s The King of Staten Island stands at $922,000 after adding $134,000 in its third frame while Rialto’s Korean animated fantasy Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs drew $61,000 in its fifth, scoring $1.17 million.

Among the other holdovers, Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog has banked $13.8 million, Roadshow’s The Personal History of David Copperfield has $1.35 million and Studiocanal’s Follow Me reached $504,000 after in its third outing.

Summing up the weekend, Wallis Cinema’s programming manager David Simpson said: “Unhinged had adequate results. It’s still catalogue titles that are filling out the numbers, with young families being the primary audience.”

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