Americans nuts for Aussie horror movie
The Invisible Man, an Australian-American co-production, has stormed the box office around the world, with impressive takings of $A74.8 million ($US49 million).
The psychological thriller featuring HG Wells' classic monster character, was shot in Sydney and directed, written and produced by Melbourne-born filmmaker Leigh Whannell, who had previously co-written the screenplays for the Saw franchise and made action-thriller Upgrade.
But it was in the US where the film really took off with a $A44.2 million ($US29 million) opening weekend.
On reviews aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, The Invisible Man has a rating of 91 per cent while its verified audience score is 88 per cent.
It also received a B+ CinemaScore, which is an American exit poll of opening weekend cinemagoers.
Whannell flipped the traditional story by focusing on the victim, a new character named Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss), rather than the Invisible Man.
Cecilia is a woman bolting from an emotionally abusive relationship with a genius optics engineer who later suicides. But she's convinced he's not really dead when she senses an invisible force is stalking her - except no one believes her.
With its modest $US7 million budget (before marketing costs), The Invisible Man is a huge success for Universal Pictures.
Industry publication Variety declared The Invisible Man had "saved" studio Universal's monster movies after the commercial and critical flop The Mummy, which starred Tom Cruise.
The Mummy, which was estimated to have cost $US350 million, was intended to kick off a shared cinematic universe franchise called Dark Universe in which classic monster characters would be resurrected. Under that now-failed plan, Johnny Depp was to play the Invisible Man.
After The Mummy's dismal run, the Dark Universe concept was canned.
Prolific horror producer Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity, Halloween) picked up the character rights to the Invisible Man in the fallout, which is how The Invisible Man ended up as a relatively low-budget stand-alone production.
Despite its strong Australian connections and Sydney shooting location, the film is set in San Francisco and features mostly Americans in the lead cast, which in addition to Moss includes Aldis Hodge and Storm Reid.
Australian Harriet Dyer and New Zealander Michael Dorman have supporting roles.
The Invisible Man is a co-production between Blumhouse Productions and Goalpost Pictures Australia in association with Nervous Tick for Universal Pictures.