Box Office: one Ticket to Paradise, please – and I’m bringing the Super Pets

Sentimental wins at the box office with an ageing star romcom, a bunch of Super Pets and a documentary about Elizabeth II. These are the box office takings for September's third week.
Roberts and Clooney leaning on each other looking cheesy

What sort of film takes top slot with $3.04m in its first weekend as the September school holidays open?  Odds on, a picture with lots of action and pizzazz, and a certain outrageous splendour. Recent opening successes include Top Gun: Maverick ($13.8m), Thor: Love and Thunder ($15.76m) and Minions: The Rise of Gru ($5.44m). Elvis ($6.71) is a little less kinetic, but even that is a cultural extravaganza.

The answer to this question is a bit of a surprise. Ticket to Paradise is a rom-com, independently produced and artistically overwhelmed by Julia Roberts and George Clooney, written and directed by UK stalwart Oliver Parker who made the second Mamma Mia! film. It was shot in the Whitsundays, tricked out as Bali. Like almost all the favourites, it has an M rating. 

It is noteworthy because it is the first film to clear $3m in its first weekend since Bullet Train at the beginning of August, and it has strong appeal for older audiences, who are still tending to stay home. What is more, rom-coms have been comparatively off-putting to audiences in Australia for around a decade. 

So far, Ticket to Paradise has made $22.1m around the world, with Australia on top, followed by Germany and Spain. North America and the UK are yet to open, while it will ultimately stream on Paramount+.


DC League of Super-Pets opened at number two with 414 screens and $1.68m, followed by the David Bowie doco Moonage Daydream, with $389,000 which is a very good figure for a music picture. IMAX would have helped these numbers. Then we get into the familiar titles – Bullet Train has taken $11.54m in seven weeks, while Where the Crawdads Sing took nine weeks to hit $11.2m. 

Read: Where the Crawdads Sing is resoundingly bland

Horror film Orphan: First Kill is on $2.14m after three weeks, soppy romance After Ever Happy has taken $1.46m in two weeks, and horror comedy Bodies Bodies Bodies has induced $341,000 worth of laughs off 219 screens in one week. 

Orphan: First Kill. Image: Paramount Pictures.

Brahmastra Part One, the Bollywood superhero flick, jumped screaming off a cliff pursued by purple demons as it lost 69% of its box office to create a $1.47m total in two weeks. In a business where the first weekend is the key, that is still a respectable total. 

Read: Bullet Train: Brad Pitt – that’s why you’re here, right?

Australian films 

We behold Three Thousand Years of Longing with some horror. It has made $1.08m in three weeks, now on 176 screens and $111k for the weekend – a drop of 47 screens and 55% of the audience. Personally I think this has only come to pass because our attention is currently tuned to a certain funeral. Soon we will shake ourselves from our stunned dream and rush to the cinema for a bit of comic action from an Australian master. How can the nation resist George Miller?

Read: Three Thousand Years of Longing: George Miller’s wish upon two stars

Idris Elba plays a djinn opposite Tilda Swinton in Three Thousand Years of Longing. Image: MGM

Audiences are still coming out for Sophie Hyde who directed Good Luck To You, Leo Grande which is about to pass the $3m mark in five weeks. Documentary Franklin has made $152,000 in two weeks off 34 screens, though the $33k it made last weekend is a bit depressing.

Madman has had Elizabeth: A Portrait in Parts on its books for 22 weeks. The company added another 32 screens and boosted its sales by 189% to reach $97,000. If you’ve got it, flog it. It has done as well as Crimes of the Future, though the Cronenberg body horror only took five weeks to nudge the magic $100,000.

Early Oscar

Woman King is a new name in the transient pantheon campaigning for Oscars in 2023. It has just opened in the US and made nearly $30m on the back of a strong performance at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). It’s produced by and stars Viola Davis.

According to TIFF: ‘Featuring thrilling performances from Oscar winner Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu (The Underground Railroad), and John Boyega, this epic tale of struggle and liberation brings to life the galvanizing true story of the Agojie, the all-female military regiment charged with protecting the embattled West African Kingdom of Dahomey from adversarial neighbours, European colonizers, and the horrors of the slave trade.’

It opens here on October 27.

Next weekend

The battle of the pet films begins as Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank arrives to confront DC League of Super-Pets. It is a kids’ remake of Blazing Saddles, with Ricky Gervais, Michelle Yeo and Samuel L. Jackson in the voice booth. Aside from one beagle, the entire cast are cats, all set in feudal Japan. We are late to this film, which was released in the US in July. It made $27m in North America, and $37m around the world – which is not great, though exhibitors will be hoping that audiences will hit this one after Super-Pets, even if the age ranges are different. 

Disney is re-releasing Avatar as it ramps up to Avatar: the Way of Water which releases on December 15 to blitz the holiday season. Expect this film to crowd IMAX in Melbourne while the Sydney team grind their teeth over the delays to the new cinema officially due in 2021.

Fall is a low budget indie film about two people stuck on a radio tower which has already outperformed expectations in the US. And Jeepers Creepers: Reborn is part of a horror franchise directed by Timo Vuorensola, who directed the two Iron Sky Moon-Nazi films. 

However, we might be ignoring all these international, low-budget films in favour of You Won’t Be Alone, made by Macedonian-Australian writer/director Goran Stolevski, and co-produced by Causeway Films with the involvement of Serbian outfit Balkanic Media. It comes with a lot of good reviews and a huge amount of goodwill from Australian screen people who know about Stolevski’s talent and the Jennings-Ceyton partnership which cradles so many confronting, original films.

Read: Goran Stolevski, Of An Age director: ‘I’m intensely connected to the characters’ 

Even the trailer scared the crap out of me.

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.