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.