Codebreaker gives Hobbits a run for their money

05 January, 2015 by Don Groves

The final chapter of The Hobbits franchise predictably won the New Year B.O. crown at Australian cinemas but a British drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch surprised some pundits by taking second spot.

The Imitation Game, which follows Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the brilliant but troubled mathematician who cracked the Nazi Enigma code in WW2, grabbed nearly $4.2 million in its first four days and $4.46 million with previews.

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The first English film by Norwegian director Morten Tydlum, it co-stars Keira Knightley as Turing’s friend and co-codebreaking partner, Matthew Goode and Mark Strong.

One exhibitor attributed the big turnout to the appeal of British historical dramas, particularly those based on true stories and set in war-time, and to Cumberbatch’s following from TV’s Sherlock.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies hauled in $6.3 million in its second weekend, propelling its takings to $24 million. The only question now is whether the final instalment can catch The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which finished with $38.4 million.

Nationwide takings reached $27 million as six titles each earned more than $2 million. Launched on Boxing Day, Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner ranks as the top-grossing film of 2014 after scoring $5.68 million in its first six days including sneaks (see separate story). Through Sunday the Gallipoli-centred drama has amassed a fine $8.4 million.

In the battle for kids and family audiences, Disney’s Big Hero 6 is the front runner, ringing up $3.1 million in its second outing and $10.4 million thus far. Fox/DreamWorks Animation's Penguins of Madagascar drew a nifty $3.5 million in its debut and $4.2 million with previews.

Fox’s Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb advanced to $8.1 million after ringing up $2.5 million its second frame, already overtaking Paddington, which has pocketed $7.7 million after its fourth outing.

Sony’s Annie is an under-performer with $4.2 million after its third weekend, pro-rata tracking well below the US haul of $US72.6 million.

Bill Murray’s turn in St Vincent as a curmudgeonly Vietnam war veteran whose life is disrupted when a single mother (Melissa McCarthy) and her adorable son (Jaeden Lieberher) move in next door is finding appreciative audiences, making $2.1 million in 10 days.

Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner, which stars Timothy Spall as irascible British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner, is shaping as that rare event, an art house hit, fetching $868,000 in 10 days at 34 screens.

Also noteworthy: the Rajkumar Hirani-directed comedy/drama PK has become the highest-grossing Bollywood movie ever in Oz, taking $2 million after its third frame, and in the US with $US9.15 million. The film starring Aamir Khan as an alien who lands in the Rajasthan desert with a mission to study life on Earth is now No. 1 release of all time in India  with $US65.2 million.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE Jan 1-4  

 

 

Title

 

Week/ Screens

 

Box Office

 

% +-

 

Total

 

1

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

2/605

$6,302,748

-48

$23,986,547

2

The Imitation Game

1/250

4,187,625

NA

 4,467,820

3

Penguins of Madagascar

1/468

 3,559,436

NA

 4,261,289

4

                   Big Hero 6

2/386

3,157,047

-15

10,398,788

5

The Water Diviner

2/296

2,739,423

-1%

8,425,507

6

Night at the Museum 3

2/314

2,477,932

-20

8,167,528

7

Paddington 

4/231

788,221

-16

7,776,209

8

Annie

3/230

666,714

-19

4,232,424

9

St Vincent

2/92

654,093

+2

2,145,303

10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

7/152

563,843

-16

33,307,706

Source: Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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