A horror/thriller based on a 1986 Stephen King novel single-handedly lifted the cinema business out of a prolonged slump last weekend.

Just as well It delivered a big payday, because none of the other new releases including The Dinner, The Glass Castle, Tommy’s Honour and The Lovers made any impression.

Meanwhile Sera Davies’ feature documentary Namatjira Project and Gregory Erdstein’s comedy That’s Not Me launched on limited screens.

The top 20 titles harvested $12.7 million, a healthy 32 per cent gain on the prior weekend, according to Numero.

Directed by Andy Muschietti, It scared up $7.4 million on 273 locations for Warner Bros. The concept of seven young outcasts known as the Losers’ Club who band together to fight an ancient shapeshifting predator which they call It clearly resonated not just with horror fans but also the broader audience.

The no-name cast of Bill Skarsgård as the central villain Pennywise, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis , Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs and Jack Dylan Grazer were along for the ride.

Pro-rata, the debut did not match the estimated $US117.1 million three-day opening in the US, the second biggest ever for an R-rated title behind Deadpool‘s $132.4 million. However Aussie exhibitors are confident the film will deliver at least $25 million.

Last weekend’s top title, Aussie director Patrick Hughes’ The Hitman’s Bodyguard, plunged by 46 per cent to $1.2 million at 269 cinemas. The action-adventure-comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson has pocketed nearly $5 million in 11 days for Roadshow.

Malcolm D Lee’s Girls Trip, a racy comedy about four friends from college, the self-styled Flossy Possy, who reunite for a weekend music festival in New Orleans, eased by a moderate 27 per cent in its second weekend at 261, taking $956,000. The Universal release which stars Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish has mustered $2.9 million, a solid result for a film with African-American leads.

American Made, the Doug Liman-directed CIA adventure starring Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, E. Roger Mitchell and Jesse Plemons, reached an OK $5.6 million after earning $781,000 in its third weekend on 261 for Universal, falling by 49 per cent.

Showing remarkable staying power, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk drummed up $264,000 in its eighth combat mission on 172 as Warner Bros’ WW2 epic advanced to $22.9 million.

Word-of-mouth is working for Jeffrey Walker’s Aussie/Muslim comedy Ali’s Wedding, which fetched $192,000 in its second weekend at 59 screens, off just 16 per cent. Based on the real-life experience of lead actor and co-writer Osamah Sami, the Madman Entertainment release has collected $511,000.

One of the few other titles pitched at mature cinemagoers, director Joel Hopkins’ comedy drama Hampstead, which stars Diane Keaton, Brendan Gleeson and James Norton, drew $178,000 in its fourth weekend on 252, down 40 cent, raking in a decent $2.6 million for eOne.

David F. Sandberg supernatural horror film Annabelle: Creation, another stand-out for the genre, topped $7 million after making $165,000 in its fifth frame on 173 for WB, despite a 69 per cent decline.

Released by Roadshow, Gifted, Marc Webb’s drama  starring Chris Evans, McKenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan and Octavia Spencer, faltered after a poor start, taking $136,000 on 99, off 32 per cent, which brings the total to $436,000.

Sony’s The Dark Tower is heading for the exits after scraping up just $107,000 in its fourth weekend, banking $3.1 million.

Director Oren Moverman’s drama The Dinner was starved of attention in the US in May, finishing up with $1.3 million, despite the star cast led by Richard Gere, Steve Coogan, Laura Linney and Rebecca Hall.  So the meagre  Aussie debut of $103,000 on 60 screens and $118,000 with previews for Icon was no surprise.

Released by Transmission, director Jason Connery’s Tommy’s Honour portrays the complex relationship between pioneering Scottish golfing champions Old Tom Morris and his son Young Tom, played by Peter Mullan and Jack Lowden.  Golfers must have been too busy on the links to watch the film, judging by the $25,000 opening on 29 screens and $42,000 with festival screenings.

Debra Winger and Tracy Letts play a long-married couple who are each having long-standing affairs until they magically fall in love again in writer-director Azazel Jacobs’ The Lovers.  An interesting premise but Sony only opened the romantic comedy on two screens, grossing $11,000.

Director Destin Daniel Cretton’s The Glass Castle has an appealing cast led by Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, Max Greenfield and Sarah Snook. However the drama based on Jeannette Walls’s best-selling memoir about a young woman’s struggles to deal with her dysfunctional family took just $2,000 on nine screens for Roadshow.

Fairfax Media’s Paul Byrnes lauded Namatjira Project, which traces the life of acclaimed Indigenous artist Albert Namatjira and his family’s quest for justice, as a powerful and profoundly moving story involving painful and potentially secret matters.  Umbrella Entertainment launched the doc on 10 screens, fetching $10,000 and $24,000 including festival screenings.

In That’s Not Me Alice Foulcher plays the dual roles of Polly and her identical twin sister Amy. Polly, an aspiring actress, uses her TV star sister’s celebrity for her own advantage – free clothes, free booze and casual sex – with funny and disastrous consequences.

The comedy produced by Storey Kids’ Anna Kojevnikov and Sally Storey with Foulcher and Erdstein rang up $30,000 on nine screens, according to ComScore. “We’re thrilled with that result and we were the No. 1 film at the Kino over the weekend,” Erdstein told IF.

The budget was just $60,000, post cost $20,000 and Film Victoria chipped in about $25,000 in marketing support, so it should not be hard to recoup from ancillary markets and international sales.

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