Ryan Reynolds as Guy and Lil Rel Howery as Buddy in 20th Century Studios’ 'Free Guy'. (Photo: Alan Markfield. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.)

With audiences emerging from lockdown in South East Queensland, Cairns and regional Victoria, DC/Warner Bros.’ The Suicide Squad held no. 1 at the box office, narrowly defeating Disney’s new sci-fi, Free Guy.

Collectively the two films had a 64 per cent market share, proving the key choices for those still able to go to the movies.

On Friday, cinemas in the nation’s capital closed as the ACT entered lockdown, and the next day those across all of regional NSW shut as a statewide lockdown was imposed. Theatres in Greater Sydney have been closed for eight weeks now, while Melbourne’s cinemas are also shuttered.

Majestic Cinemas operates across regional NSW and parts of Queensland, and CEO Kieren Dell tells IF the lockdowns are “predictably devastating”, particularly with major releases like The Suicide Squad and Jungle Cruise doing decent business. In one small blessing, the NSW release of Free Guy had already moved to September.

“This is probably the best few weeks for it to happen in the year, so hopefully it is short-lived and we can re-open again soon,” Dell says.

“Some of the new movies this week, such as Reminiscence and Respect will hopefully be able to have longer runs and reach their audiences post-lockdown. However, we are going to need increased and better-coordinated government support to get us through any extended lockdown. 

“As for Queensland, the overall numbers are still reasonably soft as we slowly regain momentum after the lockdown up there, but with three major movies in Free Guy, Suicide Squad and Jungle Cruise there is more than a little life there. Free Guy has opened really solidly for us and has the promise of producing a reasonable result both in Queensland and later in NSW.”

South Australia emerged from lockdown three weeks ago, but Wallis Cinemas’ programming manager David Simpson notes the box office remains fairly ordinary.

Free Guy had consistent numbers. Suicide and Jungle Cruise held adequately. Still counting down the days to our champion 007!” Simpson tells IF.

Overall the top 20 titles made $3.7 million, up 30 per cent on the previous, according to Numero.

The Suicide Squad collected $1.3 million in its second weekend, a drop of just 11 per cent. While the film lost 44 screens, on average it performed better than its opening, collecting $4,811 per screen.

Disney/Fox’s Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Joe Keery, Lil Rey Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and Taika Waititi, bowed to $1.2 million from 243 screens; on average that is slightly better than The Suicide Squad at $4,959 per screen.

Reynolds portrays a bank teller who discovers he is a non-playable character in the background of an open world video game, and finds himself in a race against time to save the game before the developers shut it down.

Acquired by Disney during the Fox acquisition, it marks the first Mouse House title in some time to not be released simultaneously on Disney+ Premier Access.

In US/Canada, the film surpassed expectation, premiering on $US28.4 million, and has collected $US51 million worldwide. On Twitter, Reynolds confirmed Disney wants a sequel.

Fellow Disney title Jungle Cruise came in at third, collecting $382,433 across its third weekend, a drop of 20 per cent. Overall, the Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt-starrer, which is also on Disney+ Premier Access, sits on $2.9 million.

WB’s Space Jam: A New Legacy is holding well, dropping just 1 per cent in its fifth with $245,818 – suggesting perhaps continued word-of-mouth or certain audiences finally being able to see it.

The weekend’s other key new release was Rialto’s Liam Neeson thriller The Ice Road, which debuted at fifth position with $162,920 from 139 screens.

Now six weeks in, Disney’s Black Widow sits just shy of $13 million after collecting another $127,055, while Universal’s Old is on $1.5 million after four orbits, with weekend takings tallying $87,242.

Punjabi-language romantic comedy Puuada opened on $84,732 from 20 screens for Zee Studios, the third best screen average of the week at $4,237.

Another Punjabi film, Forum Films’ Tunka Tunka, made $41,332 in its fifth frame, moving to $140,410.

Rounding out the top 10 was Madman’s French comedy The Rose Maker, ringing up $27,488 to move to $196,306.

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