Are Lego Batman's box office figures too little, too late?
"The Lego Batman Movie" has finally opened in Australia, but it was with more of a whimper than a bang. Local release was scheduled for 43 days after the initial US opening, and the delay rankled fans who also had to wait over a month for "The Lego Movie" to hit Australian theatres in 2014.
Roadshow films took a box office blow to the tune of about AU$3 million on the 2014 Lego movie due to piracy. At the time, CEO of Roadshow Films Graham Burke said it wasn't a mistake they'd make again. The about-face came in December of last year.
"We'll still lose a lot of money to piracy," said Burke, referring to the call to delay the Australian release of "The Lego Batman Movie" to line it up with the school holiday period. "But it was a trade off. There will be more money lost by having it released in a non-holiday period as opposed to releasing it when the people want to see it."
The film in question opened in Australian cinemas on March 30. This side of its local opening weekend, it's sitting at a box office total of AU$2.2 million (about $1.7 million in USD). The first Lego movie, which was also delayed locally for a school holiday release, took about AU$7 million in its opening weekend ($5.3 million US). So there was a bit of a drop off there, but the movie as a whole is performing worse worldwide ($53 million for Batman vs. $70 million for Lego's opening weekend).
What is interesting is looking at the percentages. "The Lego Movie" opened at around 7.5 percent of the US opening weekend locally. "The Lego Batman Movie" opening in Australia at only 3 percent of the US's first weekend.
By way of comparison, "Beauty and the Beast" made AU$7.5 million this weekend, its second weekend since release. Disney's latest is also showing on more screens locally. And that's some stiff competition for The Batman to stare down.
Playing prognosticator here, the first Lego movie made just shy of 20 percent of its full takings in the Australian opening weekend. If that pattern holds, Lego Batman's caped crusader would top out at around AU$11 million -- less than a third of "The Lego Movie" and its AU$35 million box office gross.
The justification to hold off on releasing "The Lego Batman Movie" was based around the school holiday period. "The Lego Movie" in 2014 was held to a similar release schedule, coming out on April 3, a full week before the Easter school holidays started. With Easter right around the corner, we'll follow up in a few weeks' time to see if the gamble paid off for Roadshow, or whether we should expect a second mea culpa about a "hell of a mistake" Roadshow won't repeat.
Roadshow Films did not immediately respond to request for comment.
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