Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials tops Weekend Box Office!

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While the box office is still doing pretty decently for September, two of the weekend’s widest new releases didn’t fare as well as hoped and expected while a number of more moderate and limited releases took business away from both of them.

The sequel to last year’s $100 million young adult hit The Maze Runner, 20th Century Fox’s Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, reunited director Wes Ball with Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario and Thomas Brodie-Sangster, as they were joined by the likes of Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Nathalie Emmanuel, Rosa Salazar and more for the adaptation of James Dashner’s second novel in the series.

It opened with $11 million on Friday including $1.4 million from Thursday previews, which in both cases was less than the opening for The Maze Runner a year ago this weekend, and according to Sunday estimates, it will end up with $30.3 million, which is less than the $32.5 million opening of its predecessor. While this might be surprising since The Maze Runner is one of the better received young adult adaptations (even though it didn’t quite achieve the numbers of The Twilight Saga or The Hunger Games), it’s also continuing the current trend that audiences just aren’t into sequels as much as they have been in the past. It also had a lot more competition for any potential male audience from a number of new releases mentioned below and its reviews and “B+” CinemaScore weren’t as strong as the original movie either.

The other big movie opening on Thursday night was Warner Bros.’ crime-drama Black Mass, starring Johnny Depp as notorious Boston criminal “Whitey” Bulger. Directed by Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace) and co-starring Joel Edgerton, Dakota Johnson, Julianne Nicholson, Rory Cochrane, Kevin Bacon and many more, it opened with an estimated $23.4 million in 3,188 theaters. That was below most expectations and projections for the weekend that thought it would open closer to $30 million and possibly give “The Scorch Trials” a run for the top spot, but it was still able to average $7,327 per theater. According to estimates, that’s still less than Ben Affleck’s Boston-based crime-thriller The Town opened with on the same weekend in 2010, but it received a respectable CinemaScore of “B” with 56% of its audience being male and 89% over the age of 26, according to exit polls, and it could sustain its business from opening weekend buzz despite having direct competition in the coming weeks.

Dropping to third place, M. Night Shyamalan’s low-budget horror flick The Visit took in $11.4 million in its second weekend, down 55% from its opening weekend as the highest-opening horror movie of 2015. It has grossed $42.4 million so far, which isn’t bad for a movie that was produced for $5 million with low-budget masters Blumhouse Productions.

Screen Gems’ thriller The Perfect Guy, starring Sanaa Lathan, Michael Ealy and Morris Chestnut, also took a tumble in its second weekend, dropping 63% from its #1 opening to fourth place with $9.7 million and $41.4 million total to date.

Universal’s ensemble adventure-drama Everest, directed by Balthasar Kormakur (Contraband) and starring Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emily Watson and Keira Knightley, opened in 545 IMAX 3D and other large format theaters and had an estimated opening weekend of $7.6 million, a strong $13,736 per theater, to take fifth place, which bodes well for its nationwide expansion on Friday. $6 million of that amount was grossed in 366 North American IMAX theaters surpassing The Equalizer‘s September IMAX opening record of roughly half that amount.

Internationally, Everest opened in 36 territories and brought in $28.2 million on 4,690 screens as the #1 movie in 12 of those markets, including Australia, Argentina, India, Mexico and Kormakur’s home country of Iceland. Next week, it will add 22 more territories on top of its North American expansion.

The hit faith-based family drama War Room (Sony/TriStar) is now the 5th-highest grossing faith-based film with $49.2 million after adding another $6.3 million in 1,945 theaters. It dropped from third to sixth place despite having a negligible drop-off of 19% in its fourth weekend.

The rest of the Top 10 grossed less than $3 million, with Broad Green Pictures’ A Walk in the Woods, starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, taking seventh place, followed by Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (Paramount Pictures) and Universal’s rap biopic Straight Outta Compton, holding onto its Top 10 spot as it became the highest-grossing film by a black director with $159 million, surpassing Keenen Ivory Wayans’ Scary Movie, which grossed $157 million in 2000.

Sony Pictures Classics expanded Paul Weitz’s Grandma, starring Lily Tomlin and Julia Garner, into a nationwide release of 1,021 theaters on Friday, and it ended up with $1.6 million or $1,557 per theater for the weekend, showing another weak expansion for the indie film subsidiary.

Paramount Pictures’ attempt to capitalize on the success of recent faith-based films backfired (maybe because that audience was well-sated by War Room), but they still released the drama Captive, starring David Oyelowo and Kate Mara, into 806 theaters, where it grossed $1.4 million or just $1,737 per theater, which wasn’t enough to get into the Top 10.

Although The Scorch Trials opened lower than last year’s The Maze Runner, the box office was still up from this weekend last year as the Top 10 grossed an estimated $97 million, which was up roughly $7 million from the Top 10 last year.

Lionsgate decided to give Denis Villeneuve’s Mexican cartel crime-thriller Sicario, starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro, a platform release ahead of its wide release on October 2, and it did quite well, grossing an estimated $390,000 in 6 theaters in New York and Los Angeles. That’s a location average of $65,000 per theater, which is probably one of the best per-theater averages this year.

As far as other limited releases, Alchemy’s Meet the Patels from Geeta and Ravi Patel opened in 34 theaters on Friday where it grossed $253,000, or $4,707 per theater. Bleecker Street’s release of Pawn Sacrifice, starring Tobey Maguire as chess master Bobby Fischer, co-starring Liev Schreiber, Peter Saarsgard and Michael Stuhlbarg, opened similarly in 33 theaters where it grossed slightly less with $207,000 but with a higher $6,269 per theater.

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Box Office: Jupiter Ascending, Seventh Son Bombing in Debuts

Box Office: Jupiter Ascending, Seventh Son

It’s not often that Hollywood releases two major theatrical bombs on the same weekend. But that’s what happened when “Jupiter Ascending” and “Seventh Son” both crashed in U.S. theaters on Friday.

Warner Bros.’ “Jupiter Ascending,” starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, is quickly falling in box office estimates to a skimpy $18 million opening. With a budget of $175 million, the Wachowskis’ sci-fi tentpole could lose tens of millions barring a dramatic turnaround overseas.

The forecast for Universal and Legendary’s long-delayed “Seventh Son,” starring Jeff Bridges, isn’t much brighter. The medieval fantasy tentpole has a projected loss of $85 million, as Varietyexclusively reported this week, despite earning $82 million at the international box office. It’s on track for only $6.6 million in its U.S. debut.

Neither of the B.O. casualties are a shock — both pics were long-delayed due to poor tracking, and Paramount’s “The Spongebob Movie,” which is soaking up $53 million this weekend, was originally projected to win the weekend. Still, the lousy ticket sales are a black eye for investors and filmmakers.

Andy and Lana Wachowski, masterminds of “The Matrix,” have yet to find commercial or critical success since their Keanu Reeves trilogy. Their previous two efforts, “Cloud Atlas” and “Speed Racer,” made a combined $67 million domestically.

The stylish filmmakers assumed that heartthrob Channing Tatum could attract more younger viewers to “Jupiter Ascending.” But Tatum is barely recognizable in the 3D  film, looking more like an elf than a sexy bounty hunter.

The sci-fi space opera earned a B- Cinemascore from moviegoers and a not-so-fresh 22% rating on RottenTomatoes.

WB had originally scheduled “Jupiter” for a prime summer release in July 2014 before pulling the plug six weeks prior to “complete special effects,” but buzz on the film was negative.

Jeff Bridges, meanwhile, is experiencing his own financial follies in recent years. The “Seventh Son” actor’s last two wide releases, “R.I.P.D.” and “The Giver,” both disappointed at the box office.

“Seventh Son,” directed by Sergei Bodrov, began filming in March 2012 and has had four different release dates. Co-starring Julianne Moore and Ben Barnes, the movie is based on Joseph Delaney’s literary series “The Spook’s Apprentice,” about a young hero with magical abilities.

Next week, Universal’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” is expected to heat up an otherwise chilly winter at the box office. Despite Warner Bros.’ smash hit “American Sniper,” several movies have tanked domestically, including Johnny Depp’s “Mortdecai” and Michael Mann’s “Blackhat,” starring Chris Hemsworth.

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Sourcesstarring Julianne Moore and Ben Barnes, the movie is based on Joseph Delaney’s literary series “The Spook’s Apprentice,” about a young hero with magical abilities.

Next week, Universal’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” is expected to heat up an otherwise chilly winter at the box office. Despite Warner Bros.’ smash hit “American Sniper,” several movies have tanked domestically, including Johnny Depp’s “Mortdecai” and Michael Mann’s “Blackhat,” starring Chris Hemsworth.

Box Office: ‘American Sniper’ Still no. 1 and Sets Super Bowl Record!

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Iraq War saga wins 3rd straight weekend with $31.8 million and routs “Project Almanac,” Kevin Costner’s “Black or White” and “The Loft”

“American Sniper” added best Super Bowl weekend ever to its list of box-office records Sunday, claiming its third consecutive weekend win with an estimated $31.8 million.

To do it, the Iraq War saga had to outscore “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour,” which rung up $31.1 million for Disney in 2008.

The Clint Eastwood-directed drama starring Bradley Cooper has rewritten the record book since it began a box-office blitz on Jan. 16, one day after it earned six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Actor.

After posting the best wide opening ever for the Martin Luther King holiday weekend and the month of January, “Ameican Sniper” will have rolled up nearly $250 million domestically in 17 days. It’s already passed“Saving Private Ryan” as the highest-grossing war movie ever, and it will be the top-grossing R-rated movie of all time if it can pass the $370.7 million domestic total that Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” rung up in 2004.

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The weekend’s three wide openers all finished behind “Paddington,” the family comedy about the British bear from “Harry Potter” producer David Heyman. It was second with $8.7 million in its third week for the Weinstein Company.

The time-travel tale “Project Almanac” followed in third with a disappointing $8.5 million from 2,893 theaters in its debut for Paramount Pictures. “Black or White,” Kevin Costner‘s race relations drama, opened in fourth with $6.4 million from 1,823 theaters for Relativity Studios. And the R-rated thriller “The Loft” wound up tenth, taking in $2.8 million from 1,841 theaters for Open Road Films.

A special run of the hit HBO TV series “Game of Thrones” on 205 Imax theaters brought in an estimated $1.5 million. The giant screen version of the medieval fantasy averaged  $7,300 per-screen, behind the $8,805 that  “American Sniper” averaged on the remaining 165 Imax screens.

The overall box office was running roughly 20 percent ahead of last year’s Super Bowl weekend, when “Ride Along” won its third straight with $12 million. Overall, the domestic box office is running more than 9 percent aead of 2014, after “American Sniper” drove one of the better months of January ever.

Paramount was hoping for more from “Project Almanac,” which is about a group of teens who build a time machine. The young crowd was the target audience for the film, and around 63 percent of the crowd was under 25. The audience, which was 55 percent male, gave it “B” CinemaScore.

The film’s modest $12 million production budget will take some of the sting out of the soft debut for the studio, its Insurge Pictures and producers Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form.

Costner produced and starred in “Black or White,” the PG-13-rated drama about a lawyer battling for custody of his biracial grand-daughter. The best news from the first weekend for the film, which co-stars Octavia Spencer, might be the “A-” CinemaScore awarded it by audiences. That should help it in coming weeks, particularly with the older crowd that it played best with.

The audience was 64 percent female and 78 percent over the age of 25. Around 53 percent of the crowd was Caucasian and 30 percent African-American.

“The Loft,” Belgian director Erik Van Looy’s English-language remake of his Dutch thriller, had a rare zero rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes coming in and bombed. Karl Urban, James Marsden and Eric Stonestreet of TV’s “Modern Family” starred.

The Jennifer Lopez thriller “The Boy Next Door” was fifth with a $6 million second week for Universal Pictures. That’s a nearly 60 percent fall from its opening weekend but still puts its domestic total at nearly $25 million, not bad given its $4 million production budget.

The Kevin Hart-Josh Gad comedy “The Wedding Ringer” followed with $5.7 million and is up to $48 million after three weeks for Sony’s Screen Gems.

Things got a little better in the second week for “Strange Magic,” the animated musical produced by “Star Wars” creator George Lucas that tanked in its debut last weekend. It’s on pace to take in $3.4 million for the three days, a 38 percent drop that gives it a $9.9 million domestic total.

The same can’t be said for Johnny Depp’s “Mortdecai.”

The ensemble comedy tumbled out of the top ten and brought in an anemic $1.4 million for the weekend, a steep 66 percent drop from its disastrous debut last weekend. That leaves its domestic total at less than $7 million for Lionsgate Entertainment, not good for a movie with a $40 million production budget.

“The Imitation Game” took in $5.2 million and finished seventh after Weinstein added 377 locations to give the Benedict Cumberbatch historical drama its highest theater total yet, at 2,402.

Its domestic total is nearly $68 million after 10 weeks. Other than “American Sniper,” that’s the best of any Best Picture Oscar contender.

Oscar-Nominated ‘American Sniper’ Wins Top Box Office Position!

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“American Sniper,” Clint Eastwood’s war-drama that’s nominated for six Oscars, was the top-grossing movie in the U.S. andCanada over the weekend, collecting $90.2 million in ticket sales to set a record for January.

“The Wedding Ringer” came in second with weekend sales of $21 million for Sony Pictures (6758)’ Screen Gems, industry researcher Rentrak Corp. said Sunday in a statement. Weinstein Co.’s “Paddington” collected $19.3 million.

Eastwood’s movie surprised the industry by reaping amounts usually not seen until summer weekends, helping kick off a year that’s expected to haul in at least $11 billion for the first time on the back of new entries from past successful franchises including “Star Wars,” “Terminator” and “Jurassic Park,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Rentrak. The three-day take for “American Sniper” was a record for a January weekend, surpassing the $68.5 million brought in by “Avatar” over the first weekend of 2010.

“No one saw this coming. This really obliterated expectations,” Dergarabedian said of Eastwood’s movie. “He’s an octogenarian and he’s still rocking it.”

In a crowded box office over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, “American Sniper” benefited from Oscar nomination buzz. The Warner Bros. film entered the weekend after picking up Academy Award nominations on Thursday, including best picture and best actor for Bradley Cooper.

Weekend sales for the top 10 films percent rose 22 percent to $179.7 million from a year earlier, according to Rentrak. The following table has U.S. movie box-office figures provided by studios to Rentrak. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales for Jan. 16 to Jan. 17, with estimates for Sunday.

Movie               Rev.    Pct.  Theaters   AVG    Total 
=========================================================
1 American Sniper  $90.2   15,466  3,555  $25,374   $93.6  
2 Wedding Ringer    21.0     --    3,003    6,993    21.0  
3 Paddington        19.3     --    3,303    5,839    19.3  
4 Taken 3           14.1    -64    3,594    3,909    62.8  
5 Selma              8.3    -27    2,235    3,714    26.0  
6 Imitation Game     7.2      0    1,611    4,464    50.8  
7 Into The Woods     6.5    -32    2,758    2,372   114.3  
8 Hobbit             4.9    -48    2,220    2,189   244.5  
9 Unbroken           4.3    -48    2,602    1,640   108.6 
10 Blackhat          4.0     --    2,567    1,571     4.0 


Top 10 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $179.7        $146.9      22.4


Year-to-date Revenue

     2015          2014
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
      $618          $598       3.4

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Box Office: ‘The Hobbit’ Holds No. 1, Woman in Black 2′ Beats Estimates and Unbroken 3rd!

Audiences maintained their affair with The Hobbit  in the first weekend of 2015 even as they began a dalliance with The Woman In Black 2,which landed in fourth for the weekend. Disney’s Into The Woods and Universal’s Unbroken, meanwhile, traded places in the Top 3 from last weekend. Woods grossed an estimated $19.1M Friday to Sunday vs. Unbroken‘s $18.358M estimated weekend take.

Overall, the box office has grossed an estimated $208.233M New Year’s Day throughSunday, a 5.5% increase from 2014’s first four-day total of $197.444M, according to Rentrak Theatrical. The Top 10 features totaled $127.256M Friday to Sunday, down 28.7% from last weekend’s $178.521M, but up 7% from last year’s Top 10 of $118.936M, which included Frozen and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The weekend’s total box office cume came in at $153M, an 8.4% increase from the same period last year, according to Rentrak’s Paul Dergarabedian.

Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies is estimated to have grossed $21.9M Friday to Sunday in 3,875 theaters, a 46% decline from the previous weekend’s 3-day $41.4M gross. That is lower than the third frame of Smaug, which came in at just over $29M and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘s $31.9M. Still,Five Armies first January frame outperformed Smaug‘s $15.675M gross during the same period last year as well as An Unexpected Journey‘s $17.5M two years prior. Both Smaug and An Unexpected Journey opened earlier in December than Five Armies, which moved its release forward to capitalize on when the Christmas holiday fell on the calendar.

The Five Armies’ has now been atop the box office for three weeks, aligning the title with the previous five Lord Of The Rings and Hobbit titles which all landed number one in the box office for three weeks or more.

Relativity’s The Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death grossed an estimated $15.14MFSS, beating the distributor’s initial estimates of $9-$11M, and ended up in fourth overall. Not bad for a $1M acquisition. It came on strong Friday with a $7.75M gross (including $1.5M from Thursday evening sneak screenings) and rounded outSaturday with a $4.93M daily gross (-36%).

“This first weekend in January has proven to be a solid core weekend for [thrillers],” said Kyle Davies, Relativity’s President Worldwide Distribution. “In terms of geography, it played broadly in large cities and small towns with strong Hispanic and African American representation. It skewed younger and female.”

Exit polls showed The Woman In Black 2‘s crowd was 53% female and 65% 25 and under. Caucasians made up 38% of the weekend’s crowd, with 25% being African American and 24% Hispanic.