Box Office: Nitram faces hunger for fun flicks, hangs on grimly

Nitram has a hard time, while exhibitors left behind in US rush to grow audience confidence.
Boy watches burning car

Nitram will be a hard sell under any circumstances, but the hunger for sheer fun is palpable as isolated audiences turn out for the sound of strangers laughing and gasping at the same time. Now in its third week, Nitram has taken all of $210,000 off 63 screens. That number went up by 8 as Madman saw NSW picture palaces take it on, to bring the weekend take up by 57% to $54,000.

Last weekend it took a horrifying $35,000 despite increasing screens from 41 to 55. However, the equally bleak Kurzel debut feature Snowtown opened on 16 screens to make $169,000 on the way to a total of $1.13 million a decade ago. So grim fare makes for slim pickings under any conditions.

As NSW welcomes cinema audiences back into the fold, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings bounced from $548,000 last weekend to $1.448 million, to hold top spot and build the box office total to $11.46 million.

Read: Nitram vindicated at Cannes

Nothing else came close. The bounce for Free Guy was all of 11%, with its number two slot earning $280,000, to create $8.27 million in 10 weeks. Respectable in a pandemic, terrible in former times.

Number 3 is now Honsla Rakh in its first week on 42 screens to make $220,000. This Canadian-Punjabi rom-com will have to wait for Australian Indian viewers to come back in order to make its distributor White Hill happy.

Paw Patrol bounced by 22% to make $207,000 over the weekend, while Suicide Squad made up for lost time with a 128% rise to make $131,000.

Supernatural horror film Lamb, which Madman bought from a farm auction in Iceland, has opened with $27,000 off 16 screens, while Pig, about Nicolas Cage’s revenge on a pet pig thief in Oregon, has only made $213,000 in five weeks despite a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Perhaps we are seeing the rise of meat guilt in the cult audience.

Read: An interview with Nitram’s Justin Kurzel

Here is Indiewire’s take on the top three US releases:

  1. Halloween Kills (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic: 42; Est. budget: $22 million; also on Peacock $50,350,00 in 3,705 theaters; PTA: $13,590; Cumulative: $50,350,000
  2. No Time to Kill (United Artists) Week 2; Last weekend #1 $24,299,000 (-56%) in 4,407 theaters (no change); PTA: $5,514; Cumulative: $99,509,000
  3. Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #2 $16,500,000 (-48%) in 4,013 theaters (-212); PTA: $4,112; Cumulative: $168,078,000

It also points out that Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel was a blow for Disney, with a clear cinema release and only $4.82 million off 3,000 cinemas. That is at most 4% of its budget, without thinking about the Mouse company’ advertising spend.

We have none of these films. The Last Duel opens here on October 21, Halloween Kills on October 28, No Time to Die on November 11 and Venom on November 25.

David Tiley was the Editor of Screenhub from 2005 until he became Content Lead for Film in 2021 with a special interest in policy. He is a writer in screen media with a long career in educational programs, documentary, and government funding, with a side order in script editing. He values curiosity, humour and objectivity in support of Australian visions and the art of storytelling.