Box Office: ‘Maze Runner 2’ Sprints Past Johnny Depp’s ‘Black Mass’ With $30.3 …

21 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Maze Runner’ sequel outpaces ‘Black Mass’ at US box office.

“The Maze Runner: Scorch Trails” in lead even as mobsters, mountain climbers, and teenage racers piled into multiplexes this weekend, lifting the overall box office collections, but preventing any one film from dominating ticket sales. “The Maze Runner: Scorch Trails,” a sequel to last year’s post-apocalyptic young adult hit, fared best. NEW YORK — “The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” edged out Johnny Depp’s “Black Mass” at box office, as the two films split young and old moviegoers in half on the first weekend of the fall movie season. 20th Century Fox’s sequel to “The Maze Runner” earned an estimated $30.3 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.LOS ANGELES: Wes Ball’s adaptation of the first book from James Dashner’s “Maze Runner” novels, about a group of teens consigned to a mysterious labyrinth, yielded a feature that proved it could compete for the same audience as the “Hunger Games” and “Divergent” series. While that came in slightly below the debut of the 2014 young-adult dystopian sci-fi original, it counted as a win for a movie that cost $61 million to make.

Its strong start was fueled by healthy debuts in South Korea where it earned $7.5 million, Russia with $3.8 million, Brazil with $2.7 million and Venezuela with $2.5 million. The second installment, which reveals some of the reasons behind the teens’ imprisonment, lacks a similar sense of originality and urgency, undercut by overly familiar characterizations and dilatory pacing. Filmed for $61 million and distributed by 20th Century Fox, the picture bowed in 3,791 locations, receiving intense competition from “Black Mass,” which likely contributed to it failing to match or exceed the $32.5 million debut of its predecessor. “Some people expected more out of the newcomers, but it was still a healthy weekend by September standards,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “There was a lot of diversity, but that can cut both ways. The conclusion of 2014’s “The Maze Runner” revealed that the teenagers known as “Gladers” were confined to their maze by the World Catastrophe Killzone Department, a quasi-state agency tasked with eradicating a viral plague that has killed off much of the world’s population and transformed many survivors into homicidal, zombielike “Cranks.” Confronting WCKD and exposing its oppressive policies becomes the teens’ primary mission in “The Scorch Trials” but this imperative increasingly diverges from the realm of speculative fiction – the basis of the book series – in favor of an action-adventure format.

Now free of their maze after suffering several significant casualties, the Gladers are confronted by the widespread breakdown of social order following a series of unprecedented solar events that have overheated the Earth’s surface and decimated many terrestrial ecosystems. That puts it in line with other Beantown crime dramas such as “The Departed,” which started with $26 million in 2006 and “The Town,” which kicked off to $23.8 million in 2010. After unidentified soldiers evacuate them to an ominous underground paramilitary facility, the teens discover that their group was only one of several subjected to the mysterious maze trials. Then there was Universal’s “Everest,” which opted to give a wide berth to gangster rats and futuristic teens by opening in a special, Imax and premium format run. Jeff Goldstein, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., said that 55 percent of the audience said in exit polls that Depp was their reason for seeing the movie, which features an ensemble including Joel Edgerton and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Janson (Aidan Gillen), who appears to run the operation, separates the Gladers for medical exams and debriefings, aggressively interrogating Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and whisking Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) away to an unknown location. The film aped an approach used by “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” in 2011, which debuted to $13.3 million before having its wide release. “Everest” bowed to a sterling $7.6 million across 545 screens, for a per-screen average of $13,867 and a fifth place finish. Befriending young loner Aris (Jacob Lofland), an escapee from a different maze, Thomas discovers that the facility is actually a cover for WCKD and that Janson is working for WCKD’s dreaded director of operations, Dr. The top five was rounded out by Universal’s “The Visit,” which picked up $11.3 million in its second weekend and third place, and Sony’s “The Perfect Guy,” which finished with $9.7 million in fourth position.

It cost $55 million to produce and stars Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin and Jake Gyllenhaal. “Minions” captured third place overseas, grossing an estimated $22.8 million across 57 territories and pushing its worldwide total to $1.12 billion. Thomas plans to lead the group across the expanse and into a distant mountain range, where they hope to make contact with a rebel group known as the Right Arm Camp. But North American theaters had the distinct feel of fall, with a crowded slate of well-reviewed films — some of them awards hopefuls — opening in more limited release and hoping to build strong word of mouth for longer runs at the multiplex.

The bulk of the weekend’s gross came from China, where the Universal and Illumination Entertainment release took first place with $19.8 million despite competition for family audiences from Sony’s “Pixels.” The Adam Sandler video game comedy earned $11.7 million from the People’s Republic. En route, they seek shelter in an abandoned factory, where they’re captured by mercenary leader Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and his young protege, Brenda (Rosa Salazar). That left “Captive,” Paramount’s attempt to wrangle the faith-based crowds that lifted “War Room” to box office heights, with roughly $1.4 million after bowing on 806 locations.

It expands wide next weekend. “Sicario,” the Lionsgate drug-war thriller starring Emily Blunt, Brolin and Benicio del Toro, opened in New York and Los Angeles ahead of its expansion over the next two weeks. Overseas, the film is outpacing its predecessor, having earned $78 million after two weeks of release. “We have a very loyal fan base,” said Chris Aronson, Fox’s domestic distribution chief. “We’ve cultivated it and, if you look at the demographic data, we’ve broadened it.” Despite the success Fox has had with debuting the “Maze Runner” films on this September weekend, the third film in the series, “The Death Cure,” won’t hit theaters until Presidents Day Weekend in 2017.

China has been particularly helpful in that pursuit. “Rogue Nation” picked up $18.2 million in the country and has earned $120 million from China since opening there on Sept. 8. The fall season, said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office data firm Rentrak, got off to a good start, with a wealth of options for moviegoers and well-reviewed releases that can play beyond opening weekend. “It’s about that playability, the long-term conversation on social media that keeps people buzzing about ‘Sicario,’ ‘Black Mass’ and other films yet to come,” Dergarabedian said. “The moviegoing habit changes in the fall, not only how and when they go to the movies, but how they talk about the movies and for how long.” Paramount Picture’s “Captive,” starring David Oyelowo and Kate Mara, however, struggled to find moviegoers. Nowlin can’t manage to convincingly frame the backstory concerning the catastrophic deterioration of the terrestrial environment that threatens humanity’s survival. Holmes” with Ian McKellen now ranks as the second highest-grossing film in Roadside Attractions’ history with $17.5 million, behind only “Mud” with $21.6 million. Overall ticket sales rose 9% over the year-ago period when the first “Maze Runner” and Liam Neeson’s “A Walk Among the Tombstones” topped the box office.

O’Brien imbues the role of Thomas with a degree of determined stoicism that’s evolved little since the franchise’s first installment, relying more on withholding emotion than displaying it. Janson represents the Gladers’ foremost threat, and Gillen deceptively displays the duplicity required as a WCKD agent who’s tasked with extracting information from the Gladers and preparing them for the next ominous phase of their ordeal. Ball attempts to sustain engagement by providing each successive setting with a different combination of threats and distinctive stylistic treatment, borrowing from drama, thriller and horror genres.

In milestone news, Sony Pictures/Affirm’s “War Room” became the fifth highest-grossing faith-based film, earning $49.2 million to date, while “Mr.

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