This weekend Matt Damon scored the second biggest opening of his career – and best for a non-sequel – with the space saga The Martian which opened triumphantly at number one with an estimated $55 million. Directed by Ridley Scott, the PG-13 pic earned sensational reviews across the board and averaged a stellar $14,357 from 3,831 locations. If estimates hold, it will be the second largest October opening of all-time nearly matching current leader Gravity which bowed to $55.8 million this same weekend in 2013. That sci-fi drama, which would go on to win seven Oscars, ran about 50 minutes shorter and had more daily showtimes.
Damon’s only bigger opening was the $69.3 million of 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum which had a large built-in fan base for the actor’s signature role. And Fox’s Martian also beat out the opening weekends of other big sci-fi players like Interstellar‘s $47.5M from last year and the $51.1M of Scott’s own Prometheus from 2012. Those are some big films to surpass.
Martian not only won over film critics, it also scored big with paying audiences too. The A grade from CinemaScore indicates great word-of-mouth ahead. Gravity two years ago enjoyed a prolonged run breaking $250 million that year before adding more later from a re-release during Oscar season. Competition will not be very fierce next weekend so a solid sophomore frame should be on the horizon as it races to the century mark.
Studio research showed that the audience was 56 percent male and 72 percent over 25. The Martian scored with 3D as the format represented 45 percent of the box office which is impressive by today’s standards. IMAX screens were booked up by The Walk but other premium large format screens contributed 11 percent of the take with the studio reporting they ran at near-capacity levels.
The Martian launched in 40 percent of the international marketplace this weekend with an estimated $45.2 million making for a global debut of $100.2 million. Next weekend will see openings in Germany, Russia, and South Korea and the global potential for a sci-fi film like this is enormous.
With good buzz and nothing new for kids coming out, Sony’s Hotel Transylvania 2 enjoyed a terrific hold in its second weekend grossing an estimated $33 million. The Adam Sandler animated comedy declined by just 32 percent which was better than the first film’s 36 percent and the 38 percent of the studio’s recent toon sequel Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. All films opened on the last weekend of September. Hotel Transylvania 2 sits at $90.5 million which is 18 percent ahead of its 2012 predecessor and could be headed for the $175 million range by the end of its domestic run. Competing studios have left October open in terms of new animated offerings so competition will be mild in the weeks ahead, especially for younger children.
Lionsgate saw a moderately good result for the nationwide expansion of its drug cartel thriller Sicario which grossed an estimated $12.1 million from 2,620 locations for a decent $4,609 average. The R-rated Emily Blunt pic scored muscular numbers in limited release for two weeks, but attracting discerning adult audiences this weekend against The Martian proved to be a challenge. With $15.1 million to date, the well-reviewed film still hopes to keep it going as word-of-mouth spreads. The CinemaScore grade was a favorable A-.
Oscar winners Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro took fourth place with their comedy The Intern which held well in its sophomore frame slipping only 35 percent. Warner Bros. has collected $36.5 million to date and could be headed for an admirable $65-70 million finish.
It was a good third weekend for the sci-fi sequel Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials which grossed an estimated $7.7 million slipping 46 percent. Fox’s cume is now $63.2 million which is 14 percent behind the pace of last fall’s predecessor. Johnny Depp‘s crime saga Black Mass fell 47 percent to an estimated $5.9 million giving Warner Bros. $52.5 million to date.
Universal contributed the next two most popular movies this weekend. The mountain adventure Everest lost its IMAX screens to The Walk and tumbled 58 percent to an estimated $5.5 million from conventional playdates for a total of $33.2 million. The studio’s low-budget thriller The Visit fared well for a fright flick and dipped 41 percent to an estimated $4 million raising the total to $57.7 million. After many turbulent years with audiences and critics, M. Night Shyamalan can now claim the highest grossing horror movie of the year. And Visit cost only $5 million to produce plus extra for marketing.
Sony rounded out the top ten with two low-cost hits led by black casts that have grossed over $113 million together. The faith-based drama War Room made an estimated $2.8 million, off 34 percent, for a new cume of $60.5 million. Dropping 50 percent to an estimated $2.4 million was the romantic thriller The Perfect Guy which has scared up $52.6 million to date.
Opening outside the top ten with lackluster results was the Robert Zemeckis film The Walk which debuted exclusively in IMAX and other PLF screens to the tune of $1.6 million from 448 locations for a disappointing $3,460 average. The PG-rated drama starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and telling the true story of the man who walked between the Twin Towers in 1974 on a highwire tried to make itself a special event with premium screens only on the first weekend.
But its target audience of mature adults was busy with The Martian and Sicario opening nationwide, plus those who like higher-priced IMAX thrills just spent cash a couple of weeks ago on Everest which bowed to a much better $7.2 million from 545 screens. Sony goes nationwide next weekend with The Walk in over 2,500 locations and will need to really energize audiences if it wants to have those cash registers ringing. Reviews were very positive.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $139.9 million which was up 3 percent from last year when Gone Girl opened at number one with $37.5 million; and up 26 percent from 2013 when Gravity debuted in the top spot with $55.8 million.
Compared to projections, The Martian soared higher than my $41 million forecast while Sicario was on target with my $13 million prediction.
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