‘Venom’ (Photo credit: CTMG)
The critics hated Venom, blasted by Rolling Stone’s Pete Travers as a “puddle of simplistic, sanitized PG-13 drivel” and the worst Marvel film of the year, and by The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw as clumsy, monolithic and fantastically boring.
Audiences must be watching a different movie as the Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man spin-off starring Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed smashed October opening weekend records worldwide last weekend.
Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black clearly is benefiting from repeat business in its third weekend while Benjamin Gilmour’s Jirga advanced to $128,000 including festival screenings after taking $16,000 in its second weekend on 10 screens.
Paramount released Paw Patrol: Mighty Pups direct to home entertainment in the US but gave it a theatrical run here as an alternate content release.
Transmission’s The Seagull didn’t fly while of the limited releases Madman Entertainment’s American Animals had a decent start and Disney’s hard-hitting boxing drama A Prayer Before Dawn had no impact.
The arrival of Venom coupled with school vacation saw the top 20 titles’ takings soar by 53 per cent to $24.6 million, according to Numero.
Directed by Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer, Venom devoured $9.3 million, eclipsing the launches of Ant-Man And The Wasp by 64 per cent, Doctor Strange (+49 per cent) and Wonder Woman (+41 per cent).
Pro-rata, that was even bigger than the $80.2 million US debut, which was well ahead of the impressive $44.2 million bow of Warner Bros’ A Star is Born, which opens here on October 18. The previous October champ in the US, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, took $55.8 million in its first weekend in 2013.
Sony’s new anti-hero adventure scored $205.2 million worldwide, ranking at No. 1 in 57 of 58 overseas markets. Wallis Cinemas’ Bob Parr hailed Venom as a breath of fresh air, observing: “If Marvel is attached one can be very confident. This audience aren’t remotely interested in reviews.”
The school vacation lifted the kids’ and family films led by Warner Bros’ animated comedy Smallfoot, which raced along to $9.4 million after banking nearly $2.9 million in its third weekend.
Universal’s Johnny English Strikes Again captured $2 million in its third outing. With $10.3 million in the till the spy adventure comedy starring Rowan Atkinson, Ben Miller, Olga Kurylenko and Emma Thompson will soon overtake the $12.5 million lifetime total of Johnny English: Reborn.
Released by eOne, Eli Roth’s dark fantasy The House with a Clock in Its Walls ascended to $5.2 million after conjuring up $1.39 million in its third frame.
Sony’s Ladies in Black eased by 18 per cent to $1.37 million in its third weekend. The 1959-set comedy-drama starring Julia Ormond, Angourie Rice, Rachael Taylor, Ryan Corr, Alison McGirr, Noni Hazlehurst and Vincent Perez has grossed $7.67 million and is heading for $10 million-plus.
One of Disney’s lesser achievers, Christopher Robin is limping towards $100 million in the US. Here, the family film directed by Marc Forster collected $1.2 million in its fourth weekend, reaching $7.675 million.
Malcolm D. Lee’s comedy Night School rang up $1.2 million in its second weekend, down 28 per cent, generating a respectable $4 million for Universal.
A steady earner, Paul Feig’s comedic thriller A Simple Favour climbed to $8.5 million after minting $905,000 in its fourth weekend for Roadshow.
Warner Bros’ Crazy Rich Asians continues to defy expectations, fetching $895,000 in its sixth stanza and $22.8 million to date. Jon M Chu’s rom-com has hauled in $169.2 million in the US and $225.9 million globally, a huge result for a $30 million budget.
With a running time of just 44 minutes, Paramount’s animated comedy Paw Patrol: Mighty Pups did OK, making $878,000 at 219 locations and $1 million with previews.
The Seagull, Michael Mayer’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s classic, has a stellar ensemble cast in Annette Bening, Saoirse Ronan, Corey Stoll, Elisabeth Moss, Mare Winningham, Billy Howle and Brian Dennehy. However the drama ended up with just $1.2 million in the US in May, released by Sony Classics, so the Australian opening of $96,000 on 63 screens was not unexpected.
Bart Layton’s Sundance hit American Animals, based on the true story of four college students who plan to steal original editions of John James Audubon’s book ‘Birds of America’ and a unique Darwin volume from the Transylvania University, drummed up $92,000 on 25 screens and $138,000 with previews and festival screenings.
French director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s A Prayer Before Dawn, a real-life drama which chronicles the struggles of a young English boxer incarcerated in Thailand’s most notorious prisons to earn his freedom by taking part in Muay Thai tournaments, earned just $7,300 on three screens.
Cinema Nova general manager Kristian Connelly tells IF: “American Animals opened better at Cinema Nova than anticipated following a soft US season while The Seagull’s starry cast failed to attract audiences, likely due to the still-bullish Ladies in Black. A Prayer Before Dawn failed to draw audiences, its task made more difficult by an R18+ rating when no other R18+ titles were in the market, making it impossible to trailer.”