Universal Pictures’ dramedy The King of Staten Island continued its reign at Australian cinemas last weekend as ticket sales slumped, starved of new releases.
Given the depressed state of the market, Shannon Murphy’s Babyteeth, the bittersweet comedy adapted by Rita Kalnejais from her play, launched reasonably well on 46 screens, making $65,000.
The Universal release starring Eliza Scanlen, Toby Wallace, Ben Mendelsohn and Essie Davis registered the second highest per-screen average – $1,419 – among the top 10 titles, behind the market leader’s $1,766.
With 33 per cent of the nation’s cinemas closed and most that are still operating charging half price, the top 20 titles generated a mere $1.7 million, down 27 per cent on the previous frame, according to Numero.
The weekend takings were down 90 per cent on the same weekend last year, when The Lion King, Spider-Man: Far From Home, André Rieu’s Maastricht Concert and Toy Story 4 were raking in millions.
Sony Pictures launched The Burnt Orange Heresy, a neo-noir thriller directed by Italian Giuseppe Capotondi, making $89,000 on 81 screens and $112,000 with previews. Claes Bang plays James Figueras, an art critic who’s trying to make a living on the lecture circuit in Milan when he embarks on a steamy affair with young American tourist Berenice (Elizabeth Debicki).
Understandably, exhibitors are fearful as multiple Hollywood releases have been postponed, resulting in a barren outlook for the next few months.
“Customers are definitely waiting for the major releases to bring them back to the cinema, especially while everyone remains on high alert regarding COVID-19,” Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace GM Alex Temesvari tells IF.
“We can only run on retro film fumes for so long. Here’s hoping that potential international roll out on Tenet becomes a reality so the industry can truly start recovering. No pressure, Chris Nolan!”
His prayers were answered as Warner Bros. has just dated Nolan’s thriller Tenet for August 27.
Wallis Cinema’s senior adviser Bob Parr was hoping for a bigger turnout for Babyteeth, considering the rave reviews, but is confident business will build thanks to word-of-mouth.
Village Cinemas programming manager Geoff Chard says: “Obviously it’s still a very depressed market, with a lot of consumers still avoiding cinemas, particularly in regional Victoria.
“I’d hoped for a stronger opening for Babyteeth given the reviews and the fact that it’s an Australian film; however there is plenty of time for audiences to discover this gem. This week we’ve got the thriller Unhinged starring Russell Crowe, which should hopefully breathe some fresh air into the industry.”
Produced by Alex White and executive produced by Jan Chapman, Murphy’s film got a prolonged standing ovation at the world premiere in competition at the Venice Film Festival last September and Wallace won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for best young actor.
Directed by Judd Apatow, The King of Staten Island rang up $291,000 in in its second frame on 165 screens (easing by 13 per cent), which brings the total to $718,000.
Studiocanal’s horror-thriller Follow Me fetched $147,000 in its second outing on 152, off 28 per cent, to reach $408,000.
Roadshow’s The Personal History of David Copperfield climbed to $1.3 million after adding $122,000 in its fourth.
Rialto’s Korean animated fantasy Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs drew $112,000 in its fourth, advancing to $1.1 million.
Umbrella Entertainment’s House of Cardin, a feature documentary on legendary designer Pierre Cardin, co-directed by David Eversole and Todd Hughes, opened on 14 screens, grossing $11,000 including advance screenings.