Emma’s the Belle of 2017 box office
WITH the year half gone, Emma Watson's Beauty and the Beast is the Belle of the 2017 box office ball in Australia.
The only way this Disney princess could lose her crown is if the new Star Wars film - fast hurtling towards cinemas from a galaxy far, far away - can perform anything like its record breaking predecessor.
Released in March, Disney's live action Beauty and the Beast has grossed $47.87 million - a hefty $40 million of that total coming in its first month of release - to be the 12th highest grossing film of all time in Australia.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi will return to the core saga story of Luke, Leia, baddie Kylo Ren and Jedi in training Rey on December 14.
To surpass Beauty and the Beast in 2017, it would need to set a pace close to that of 2015's franchise reboot, The Force Awakens.
That Star Wars film grossed a mind-boggling $62.78 million in the space of two weeks to win the year. Its final total of $93.93 million makes it the second-highest grossing film of all time.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a Marvel superhero movie holds No. 2 for 2017 so far: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with $32.76 million.
Swinging into cinemas this Thursday, Spider-Man Homecoming takes Peter Parker back to his early high-school years and so should appeal to old-school fanboys and school holiday audiences alike.
The third Marvel movie for 2017, the Australian-filmed Thor: Ragnarok, arrives October 26.
After a barren 2016 for local films, Lion is flying the Aussie flag with $29.55 million to be the No. 3 film this year.
The $28.45 million grossed by The Fate of the Furious makes it the second-highest grossing film in the Fast & Furious franchise, but it lags far behind F7 which hit the brakes at $43.34 million in 2015.
Besides Hugh Jackman's final X-Men outing Logan ($23.36 million), 2017 hasn't been a great year for sequels.
The Australian-filmed Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales isn't seafaring well: on $14.11 million after five weeks of release, it looks set to wash ashore the lowest grossing of the five Pirates movies.
The saucy Fifty Shades Darker failed to outperform its predecessor, whipping up $18.02 million compared to Fifty Shades of Grey's $23.72 million in 2015.
The $4.47 million debut of Transformers: The Last Knight last weekend was a franchise low.
Animated kids' flick Despicable Me 3 may buck the trend, with $11 million under its belt as of last Thursday.
Ben Affleck's Live By Night is arguably the flop of 2017.
A high profile directing and starring project for Affleck, it came and went back in January without even reaching $1 million.
Moonlight won the Oscar (after that monumental envelope stuff up) but a much wider release and wider appeal saw La La Land win the box office war - $2.5 million to $20.07 million.
She may not have matched her blokey superhero peers in the opening weekend stakes, but
Wonder Woman has shown impressive staying power in cinemas. With $24.57 million clocked up before this weekend just gone, she sits No. 5 for the year to date.
Wonder Woman will rejoin her mates Batman and Superman in Justice League - DC's answer to Marvel's Avengers - out November 16.
Other big titles still to come in 2017 that could give the box office battle a good shake include the star-studded mystery Murder on the Orient Express (November 9), The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan's war epic Dunkirk (July 20), War For the Planet of the Apes (July 27), sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle (September 21) and September school holiday treat The LEGO Ninjago Movie (September 21).
Action fantasy The Dark Tower (August 17), based on the Stephen King novels and starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, is a dark horse in the race.
As for local contenders, after winning the audience favourite award at Sydney Film Festival last month, Melbourne-shot comedy Ali's Wedding - billed as Australia's first Muslim rom-com - opens August 31 and has the potential to charm its way to a tidy little sum.