‘Bad Boys for Life’ (Photo: Sony Pictures).
Seventeen years after the Bad Boys sequel the third edition in the franchise has put Will Smith back in the winners’ circle after he starred in Ang Lee’s 2019 flop Gemini Man.
Sony Pictures’ Bad Boys for Life opened in top spot in a buoyant weekend as exhibitors and distributors donated two dollars of every ticket sold on Sunday at participating cinemas to three charities involved in bushfire relief.
Sunday takings totaled $6 million, so based on an average ticket price of about $14.50 that would mean 420,000 admissions and a total donation of around $840,000.
“I really take my hat off to the distributors, exhibitors and representative bodies that were able to swiftly come together and create such a powerful and unified industry initiative,” Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace GM Alex Temesvari tells IF. “It really gave cinemas a chance to contribute in a meaningful way.”
Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell reports a lot of people chose to go to his locations in regional NSW and Queensland on Sunday due to the fundraiser, observing: “We were certainly busier than we might otherwise have expected, although rain across our catchment area always increases admissions.”
Universal Pictures’ Dolittle entered the market in third spot, resonating better here than in the US, while Studiocanal’s Bombshell cashed in on the Oscar nominations for Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie.
Roadshow launched Owen Trevor’s debut feature GO! on 257 screens, taking $314,000 and $399,000 with advance screenings after Netflix acquired the rights to the rest of the world excluding China.
That’s a low-key start for the family film scripted by Steve Worland (Paper Planes), which stars William Lodder, Richard Roxburgh, Frances O’Connor, Darius Amarfio-Jefferson, Anastasia Bampos and Cooper van Grootel.
However Dell expects a steady run as audiences discover the movie, observing: “The kids I know who have seen it liked it better than any other movie they’ve seen during these holidays, so hopefully it will find its feet (or wheels) over the rest of the holiday period as parents go back to work and kids are looking for entertainment.”
See Pictures’ Sonia Borella, who produced with Jamie Hilton, tells IF: “We are proud to open this Australian family film, which has had overwhelmingly positive reactions and reviews.
“Family film is competitive at this time of year and despite the opening weekend figures being lower than expected we hope exhibitors will continue to support GO! and our local film industry over the Australia Day weekend and to the end of the school holidays.”
Justin Kurzel’s True History of the Kelly Gang lost screens and what little momentum it had in its second weekend, making just $6,300 from limited sessions on 11 screens. Billed as a Stan Original, the subversive bushranger pic starring George MacKay, Russell Crowe, Nicholas Hoult and Essie Davis, which premieres on Australia Day on Stan, has grossed $112,000.
The top 20 titles generated $25.7 million, 5 per cent up on the previous frame according to Numero. Directed by Belgian filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, Bad Boys for Life rang up $5.7 million on 369 screens, in line with the estimated US debut of $62.1 million in three days and $73.4 million over the Martin Luther King weekend. That was the second-best MLK weekend ever, behind American Sniper’s $107.2 million and ahead of Ride Along’s $48.6 million.
Budgeted at $90 million, the cop caper starring Smith and Martin Lawrence has already clocked $107 million globally and is yet to open in 50 per cent of international markets; small wonder Sony is already plotting a fourth film.
The 10 Oscar nominations ensured a lively second weekend for Sam Mendes’ 1917, which drummed up $3.5 million and $10.4 million thus far for Universal. The WW1 drama starring George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman stands at $76.8 million after its second weekend wide in the US and $138.7 million worldwide.
The Producers Guild of America named 1917 as best picture on Saturday, which could be an omen for the Academy Awards as the PGA’s top film has won that Oscar 21 times in 30 years, most recently with Universal’s Green Book and Fox Searchlight’s The Shape of Water.
Dolittle, director Stephen Gaghan’s first foray into VFX-laden family comedy after the Oscar-winning Traffic, Syriana and Gold, was plagued with problems during the production, resulting in 21 days of re-shoots, with directors Jonathan Liebesman and Chris McKay overseeing rewrites as the budget blew out to a reported $160 million.
Hence the estimated US debut of $22 million/$29.5 million for the film featuring Robert Downey Jr. in the role made famous by Rex Harrison in the 1967 original and the 1998 version starring Eddie Murphy was no great surprise.
The Australian opening of nearly $3.4 million was more respectable, as Dell notes: “Families are enjoying it despite the reviews and the release timing is good to capture the end of the school holidays with families looking for something new and light for the kids.”
Sony’s blockbuster Jumanji: The Next Level scored $2.3 million in its fourth frame, propelling the the total to $41 million. Few if any pundits would have predicted Jake Kasdan’s action fantasy to streak past Frozen II, which has raked in $38.4 million in eight weeks.
The worldwide total for the movie starring Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan towers at $709 million, with international markets contributing $438 million.
Bombshell, the Jay Roach-directed drama depicting the sexual harassment at Fox News which ended the career of founder Roger Ailes (John Lithgow), collected $1.8 million on 213 screens and $2.2 million including advance screenings, tracking ahead of comparable titles such as The Big Short, Spotlight, Birdman and Carol.
It was the second biggest title behind 1917 at the Hayden Orpheum and opened well at the Cinema Nova, where Disney/Fox’s Jojo Rabbit reigned in its fourth weekend to reach $5.9 million.
Cinema Nova GM Kristian Connelly says Bombshell is performing more strongly in commercial centres than in upscale venues where he expected it would resonate. The Lionsgate release has garnered a solid but not startling $29.4 million in the US.
Little Women. Greta Gerwig’s reinterpretation of the Louisa May Alcott novel, advanced to $11.3 million after pocketing $1.4 million in its third for Sony. The $40 million romantic drama starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep has rustled up an impressive $85.8 million in the US plus $44.3 million from only 13 offshore markets.
Guy Ritchie’s crime comedy/thriller The Gentlemen has gunned down a nifty $10.4 million after adding $1.3 million in its third for Roadshow.
Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ascended to $45.1 million after making $1 million in its fifth. JJ Abrams’ sci-fi epic has amassed $1.027 billion, split between $492 million domestic and $535 million from international.
Will Smith has two films in the top 10, the other being Disney/Fox’s animated sci-fi comedy Spies in Disguise, which drew $806,000 in its third and $6.6 million thus far.
Roadshow’s My Spy tumbled by 42 per cent to $742,000 in its second round. The action comedy directed by Peter Segal has bagged $2.9 million.
Madman Entertainment launched The Biggest Little Farm, a feature doc which chronicles the eight-year quest by filmmaker John Chester and his wife Molly to convert barren farmland in California into their vision of utopia, reaping a modest $65,000 on 51 screens and $189,000 with festival screenings. Cinema Nova was its top location.
Surveying the weekend business, Wallis Cinemas senior adviser Bob Parr says: “It was an excellent weekend. Good to see Will Smith open a movie so well and to see Dolittle and Jumanji exceed their pro-rata US results. Bombshell should get more positive publicity from the SAG and Oscar awards.”