Box office report: Scorch Trials races past Black Mass

20 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Maze Runner 2’ edges out Johnny Depp’s ‘Black Mass’ to take top spot.

NEW YORK (AP) — “The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” edged out Johnny Depp’s “Black Mass” at the weekend box office, as a crowded field of films kicked off the fall movie season. The dystopic action flick is poised to pull in around $31 million in its opening weekend, with a Friday haul of around $11 million, according to Box Office Mojo. 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. 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.

Universal’s “Everest” began its box office climb on Friday with a respectable $2.3 million at 545 premium large-format locations, which should give the mountaineering epic around $7.1 million for the weekend as the studio attempts to build buzz for a wide release next weekend. That’s a strong sum for an R-rated adult drama, and it stabilizes a bad box-office run for Depp following “Mortdecai,” ”Transcendence” and “The Lone Ranger.”

Should Saturday projections hold, “The Scorch Trials” would finish the weekend slightly below “The Maze Runner,” which debuted to $32.5 million on the same weekend last year. 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.

Depp was the big attraction, with 55% of audience members reporting that his turn as the sociopathic crime lord with the dead blue eyes was the reason they bought tickets. “Johnny Depp always swings for the fences, and sometimes he strikes out, but this was a grand slam,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. distribution executive vice president. “He’s the face of evil.” 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. Paramount’s launch of the faith-based thriller “Captive,” starring David Oyelowo and Kate Mara, appeared to be showing little traction with $647,000 at 808 theaters on Friday.

The religious-themed thriller earned just $647,000 in its Friday take, with an estimated opening weekend under $2 million. “Sicario,” however, could be stalking bigger returns. The harsh narco-terrorist drama starring Emily Blunt scored $133,810 in a six-location release, a good sign for its impending wide release on Oct. 2. Caucasians accounted for less than half of the opening weekend crowd, with females accounting for 53% and 63% of the audience coming in under the age of 25. 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. In the indie world, Bleecker Street debuted “Pawn Sacrifice,” a look a troubled chess great Bobby Fischer, to $206,879 for a per-screen average of $6,269, while Lionsgate got drug war thriller “Sicario” off to a sizzling start of $146,494 from just six engagements.

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. 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.

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