Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken has over-performed industry expectations in US cinemas and seriously under-performed in the UK, so its Australian opening was always likely to rank somewhere in between.
The harrowing survival story of US Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini, who was captured by the Japanese in WW2 after his plane crashed into the Pacific, rang up $2.14 million at 248 locations last weekend, and $2.26 with previews.
That’s a creditable figure in a fiercely competitive market in which 10 titles each grossed more than $1 million, the first time that has happened in living memory, or at least to the recollections of several distributors and exhibitors.
The opening was bigger than the bows of Captain Phillips, War Horse and Atonement, which ended up earning $10 million or more, suggesting a similar upside for Unbroken if word-of-mouth gives it a tailwind.
The drama based on Lauren Hillenbrand’s book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption, has amassed $US108.6 million in the US and a lousy £2.35 million ($A4.3 million) in the UK, where some critics lashed the film as heavy-handed, derivative and overly reverential.
Universal Pictures Australia MD Mike Baard is delighted with the opening, telling IF, “We’re in a very tough corridor. For a film without faces of renown, it’s at the top end of the range. We’re chuffed.”
Nationwide B.O. receipts totalled $20.2 million, according to Rentrak’s estimates, down 27% on the previous weekend but still very buoyant. That excludes paid previews for Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper and the Reese Witherspoon starrer Wild, which open on Thursday.
The Liam Neeson-headlined action thriller Taken 3 held top spot despite plunging by 53% to $2.6 million, hauling in almost $10.4 million in 11 days. Disney’s musical drama Into the Woods whistled up $2 million in its second weekend, off 42%, banking $7.7 million.
Robert Connolly’s Paper Planes launched with a terrific $1.73 million (see separate story), and nearly $1.9 million with previews, backed by a hefty P&A campaign from Roadshow.
The Imitation Game advanced to $11.8 million after collaring $1.6 million in its third campaign, falling by a moderate 36%.
Michael Keaton’s riveting turn as a former superhero who tries to resurrect his career in a Broadway play in Birdman orchestrated a fine $1.45 million, bringing its total including sneaks to $2 million.
Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner conjured up $880,000 in its fourth outing, down 48% as it lost some sessions, reaching $13.1 million.
WEEKEND BOX OFFICE Jan 15-18
Title Week/ Screens Box Office % +- Total
1 Taken 3 2/285 $2,628,903 -53 10,374,208
2 Unbroken 1/292 2,141,176 NA 2,260,325
3 Into the Woods 2/291 2,059,725 -42 7,717,366
4 Paper Planes 1/253 1,732,641 NA 1,894,105
5 The Imitation Game 3/250 1,671,354 -36 11,838,896
6 Birdman 1/156 1,458,221 NA 1,981,220
7 Big Hero 6 4/291 1,424,932 -39 18,069,609
8 Penguins of Madagascar 4/398 1,381,162 -44 11,953,450
9 The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies 4/383 1,369, 232 -50 31,938,386
10 Dumb and Dumber To 2/215 1,173,807 -55 4,877,837
Source: Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia