The adventure sequel Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials led the box office in North America just like its predecessor did exactly a year ago. Opening to an estimated $30.3M, the PG-13 film reached the same range as last year’s The Maze Runner which bowed to $32.5M. Scorch (which averaged $7,993 from 3,791 locations) came in 7% below the first film which is not bad these days for a sequel opening at the same time of year. Earlier this summer, Avengers: Age of Ultron opened 10% below The Avengers launching on the very same weekend.
The audience was relatively the same. Fox data showed that Scorch Trials attracted a crowd that was 53% female and 63% under 25. Reviews were not as good as those for the first movie, and the CinemaScore grade dipped to a B+ this time compared to an A- for the previous pic. Overseas markets collected $43.3M this weekend boosting that cume to $78M including last week’s debuts for a global gross now of $108.3M. Last year’s Maze rocketed to $347M worldwide so another solid performance is likely here. The third installment in the series is already on the calendar for Presidents Day weekend of 2017 and that one could turn this into a billion dollar franchise.
Following many disappoints in recent years (some with sky-high budgets), Johnny Depp scored a creative and commercial victory with the crime drama Black Mass which opened to an estimated $23.4M from 3,188 locations for a solid $7,327 average. Earning good reviews and some Oscar buzz, the violent R-rated film played to an older male audience as expected. Studio researched showed that the crowd was 56% male and 89% over 25.
The opening was almost identical to the $23.7M debut last fall of Fury – another historical R-rated drama with intense violence anchored by a Hollywood hunk (Brad Pitt). That war film finished up with $85.8M, or 3.6 times the opening weekend. Mass saw no increase on Saturday from Friday sales which was troubling since it plays to an older crowd and that Friday includes Thursday night pre-sales. The CinemaScore grade was a mediocre B which may indicate mixed buzz from paying audiences going forward. Mass features some of the most violence against women seen by any of Depp’s many characters which could be off-putting to some.
The M. Night Shyamalan chiller The Visit dropped a spot to third place grossing an estimated $11.4M for a 55% fall which was reasonable for the genre. Universal has banked $42.4M for the low-budget thriller. Tumbling from first to fourth place was the romantic thriller The Perfect Guy which suffered a steep 63% fall to an estimated $9.7M. Cume is $41.4M for Sony. Each may end up in the $55-60M range.
Not needing any more hits, Universal ended up with more good news this weekend with the strong opening for its mountain climbing drama Everest which grossed an estimated $7.6M from an exclusive run in 545 3D locations (366 IMAX and the rest other premium large format screens). Averaging a sensational $13,867 per site, the PG-13 film starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Josh Brolin launched exclusively in higher-priced premium engagements and will open next weekend in standard formats. Reviews were positive and the audience skewed older (55% were 35 or above) and more male (54%). 36 international debuts added $28.2M for a global opening of $35.8M.
The leggy faith-based hit War Room enjoyed another great hold dipping only 19% in its fourth weekend (thanks in part to 300 more screens) to an estimated $6.3M pushing Sony’s cume up to $49.2M. Robert Redford’s A Walk in the Woods was off 42% to an estimated $2.7M putting Broad Green at a solid $24.8M.
A pair of late summer blockbusters followed. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation dropped 45% to an estimated $2.3M giving Paramount $191.7M to date. Overseas, China has soared to $120M putting the worldwide haul at $656.4M. Straight Outta Compton fell 50% to an estimated $2M for $158.9M so far for Universal. The critically acclaimed indie comedy Grandma expanded nationwide in its fifth weekend and jumped into the top ten with an estimated $1.6M. Lily Tomlin’s well-received hit has collected $3.8M to date.
Lionsgate enjoyed a spectacular platform debut for its Oscar contender, the drug cartel thriller Sicario, which bowed to an estimated $390,000 from only six sites for a sizzling $65,000 average. The well-reviewed R-rated film starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benicio del Toro goes nationwide on October 2.
Debuting poorly outside of the top ten was the critically panned hostage thriller Captive with an estimated $1.4M from 806 locations for a terrible $1,737 average. The R-rated pic starring Kate Mara and David Oyelowo never generated any audience excitement and found no room in the marketplace for itself.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $97.1M which was up 8% from last year when The Maze Runner opened at number one with $32.5M; and up a healthy 39% from 2013 when Prisoners debuted in the top spot with $20.8M.