Cloudy weekend for business at Oz cinemas

09 December, 2013 by Don Groves

A bunch of new arrivals including the sequel to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs failed to lift the Australian box-office from its pre-Christmas torpor last weekend.

Takings overall slipped by 6% to $9.9 million as distributors unloaded a couple of films that had misfired in the US.


There was no serious competition for The Hunger Games – Catching Fire. which reigned in its third weekend, grabbing $3.5  million despite plunging by 48%, propelling its earnings to a lucrative $28.3 million.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 raked in $1.6 million ($1.8 million with previews), a fair start for a family film that's positioned to cash in as kids go on vacation.

Delivery Man, the comedy starring Vince Vaughn as a loser who discovers he has artificially inseminated 533 children, who come from looking for him, did not open strongly in the US so its $1.05 million debut in Oz ($1.2 million with previews) was predictable. The concept sounds promising and Vaughn is a funny man but audiences don't seem motivated to see it.

Gavin Hood's Ender's Game, a sci-fi tale based on an Orson Scott Card novel about an ant-like race known as the Formics who threaten Earth, bombed in the US despite a cast led by Harrison Ford and Hugo's Asa Butterfield. Hence the Australian opening of $850,000 was in line with the US result.

In the art-house market, none of the new entries made much of an impression. Bille August's Night Train to Lisbon, starring Jeremy Irons as a guy who is obsessed with a book about the Portuguese resistance, took a lousy $63,000 on about 25 screens

Glowing reviews for James Ponsoldt's The Spectacular Now, a coming-of-age drama about a high schooler who falls for a beautiful stranger, had no discernible impact, judging by the $63,000 opening on 24 screens.

Daniel Radcliff'e's efforts to forge a career after Harry Potter were not advanced by Kill Your Darlings, which features Dan as Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg, who gets mixed up in a murder. Directed by first-timer John Krokidas, it drew $47,000 on 16 screens.

Robert Connolly's CinemaPlus and Eric Bana joined forces to stage Q&A screenings of Closed Circuit, a thriller starring Bana and Rebecca Hall as lawyers who investigate a London bomb explosion.

Nice try but the opening of $46,000 on 25 screens ($75,000 including  previews) was a disappointing response.