Box Office 10 September: One big scary clown and some small Australian films

IT: Chapter Two goes out wide, The Nightingale sings quietly together with Angel of Mine, The Australian Dream, Danger Close and Palm Beach.
Box Office 10 September: One big scary clown and some small Australian films

Pennywise is coming to get your teenagers out of the house. It: Chapter 2, courtesy of Warner Bros.

At number one, the big tent-pole release this week was horror sequel It: Chapter 2 (Warner Bros), which went out wide on 501 screens for a total box office of $6.4 million and a screen average of $11,786. That's a lot of multiplex popcorn. If anecdotal evidence is worth anything, my own teenage son, not a particularly avid cinema-goer, left the PlayStation on Saturday night to see this with a bunch of mates. The verdict? 'Not as crap as I expected.'

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It: Chapter 2 is a sequel with an unforgettable villain and some reliable scares, not all of them of the cheap jumpy kind. Warner Bros will be expecting a similar result to the one they got in 2017 with It: Chapter 1, released at the same time of year, with an opening Australian weekend of $7.5 million and a total BO of $23 million.

Number two at the Australian box office is Tarantino's nostalgic Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony). It's made $18.2 million here so far in four weeks, but fell sharply this week, down 48 per cent, having lost 93 screens on last week. This weekend it was showing on 438 screens for an average of $3164/screen.   

In seventh place in the charts, Australian film Palm Beach (Universal) is defying critics and hanging in there in its fifth week, gaining another $189,347 for a total of $4.2 million. Showing on 220 screens (251 last week), its screen average was $861/screen.

Also hanging in there at number 11, Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan (Transmission) was also in its fifth week. Still showing on 161 screens (down from 200 last week) it gained another $127,962 for a total to date of $2.7 million.

The Adam Goodes documentary The Australian Dream was in its third week and showing on 85 screens (down from 105 last week). It gained $83,346 for a total box office to date of $833,202. The screen average this week was $981. This is not a bad result at all for an Australian doco, and distributor Madman are committed to this film, which is going to be shown everywhere around Australia where people kick a football, including on regional screens and in areas with large Indigenous populations. As we said last week, That Sugar Film started slow and reached $1.7 million after a persistent campaign and Sherpa began on $120,000, and eventually took $1.275 million. 

In limited release, Jennifer Kent's award-winning The Nightingale (Transmission), in its second week in cinemas, took another $67,578 on 32 screens, making a total box office so far of $327,329. That's a screen average of $2,112. This is a tough film, and it could be argued that critics have overstated its horrific elements and understated its entertainment value as an exciting story well told. It's arguably the best Australian feature this year, not that such opinions have ever guaranteed audiences turn out for an internationally proven local film. By comparison, Kent's critically acclaimed The Babadook took only $268,283 locally when it released in 2014, distributed by Umbrella. It still went on to propel the director into a career that's taking off right now

Also releasing this week on 42 screens was Australian psychological thriller Angel of Mine (R&R Films), directed by Kim Farrant, with international stars Noomi Rapace and Yvonne Strahovski. It's made $41,295 so far, including previews. It releases in the US this month so there will be hopes it makes back its budget there. 

Small WA-set and financed romantic comedy The Naked Wanderer (Umbrella) went out bravely in the nuddy on 25 screens, and adding in a preview screening from last week has taken $18,017. Despite having John Cleese in the cast it's struggling to gain awareness with the public.

An interesting side note, the IMAX Northern Territory nature doc The Wild Top End 3D made $13,429 on just one screen. IMAX tickets are pricey, but even still that's not bad. Having just been on holiday there I can say the landscape and its creatures deserve all the screen time they can get.

Looking towards the coming weeks, we'll be tracking with interest Sophie Hyde's Animals (Bonsai Films, 12 Sept), Rodd Rathjen's Cambodian-shot Buoyancy (Umbrella, 26 Sept) and the one that's bound to be the biggest Aussie feelgood hit of the year, Rachel Griffiths' Ride Like a Girl (Transmission, 26 Sept).  

All figures sourced from the MPDAA .

About the author

Rochelle Siemienowicz is a journalist for Screenhub. She is a writer, film critic and cultural commentator with a PhD in Australian cinema. She was the the co-host of Australia's longest running film podcast 'Hell is for Hyphenates' and has written a memoir, Fallen, published by Affirm Press.

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