‘The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials’ Outruns Johnny Depp’s ‘Black Mass’ At Box …

21 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Maze Runner’ sprints past ‘Black Mass’.

“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.He charmed little old ladies by carrying their groceries, intimidated petty hoods and buried his murder victims under highway overpasses and brilliantly manipulated the local FBI into letting him operated with impunity.

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. In total it has grossed $78 million internationally so far. “Black Mass,” in which Johnny Depp plays mob boss Whitey Bulger, opened to $23.4 million, which is similar to other R-rated fall dramas such as “Argo,” “The Departed” and “Captain Phillips.” All of those movies went on to gross more than $100 million, since older adults are less likely than young people to rush out on an opening weekend. Like Al Capone and Chicago, Bulger and his Winter Hill Gang are synonymous with the “City on a Hill.” It’s no surprise then that “Black Mass,” a new Warner Bros. drama about the notorious gangster, did massive business in Boston and its environs when it debuted last weekend. Still, it’s a strong opening for the adaptation of James Dashner’s young adult novel, which earned a B+ CinemaScore and stars Dylan O’Brien as a teenager struggling to survive in a scorched wasteland.

Universal Pictures opened “Everest,” about a mountain expedition gone wrong, only on 545 Imax and other large format screens and took in $7.6 million. 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.” The audience for “The Scorch Trials” was 63 percent below the age of 25, according to Fox, while 89 percent of the audience for “Black Mass” was over 25, according to Warner Bros. Being able to attract a young audience consistently “is important, because they’re so distracted and have so many different delivery systems — be it their laptop or their phone,” Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak’s senior media analyst, said in an interview. “It’s quite significant they’re going to the movie theater for this one.” Thomas, played by Dylan O’Brien, and his fellow Gladers are searching for clues about the mysterious and powerful organization that controls their fates. Starring Johnny Depp as the legendary Boston gangster Whitey Bulger, Black Mass’ debut puts it on par with other Boston crime flicks like The Departed, which opened to $26.9 million in 2006, and The Town, which opened to $23.8 million in 2010.-Mexico border drama “Sicario” opened at only six theaters but enjoyed a $390,000 opening, giving it the highest per-theater average of any movie this year.

The three highest-grossing locations were all in Beantown and its surrounding environs — Loews Boston Common 19, AMC Assembly Row 12 in Somerville and Showcase Cinema in Revere. “To have three of the top locations all be in Boston is definitely an outlier,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. distribution executive vice president. “We did well in the South and the Midwest, but we clearly over-indexed in the Northeast.” The film also did well in New York, where it over-indexed by 25%, and Los Angeles, where it over indexed by 12%. The first episode earned $102.4 million domestically and $32.5 million on its opening weekend. “The first ‘Maze Runner’ film was a wilderness saga refitted with robotic monsters,” Michael Sragow wrote in the Los Angeles Times.“ ‘‘‘The Scorch Trials’ is a ‘Mad Max’ film on foot.’’ Through the end of the year, studios will be releasing Oscar hopefuls, along with a mix of movies they expect to garner wide box-office appeal. Reviews for the film and particularly for Johnny Depp’s performance as a silver-haired, dead-eyed Bulger have been strong, but the picture’s CinemaScore of B is mediocre. Depp has been touted for a shot at best actor for his work in ‘‘Black Mass.’’ ‘‘Black Mass,’’ from Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros., had a stronger critical reception than ‘‘Scorch Trials,’’ with 76 percent giving positive reviews, according to the website. 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 story is set in 1970s South Boston and follows close relationship between FBI Agent John Connolly played by Joel Edgerton, and the mobster Bulger. The story tracks how this unholy alliance spiraled out of control, allowing Bulger to become one of the most feared gangsters in American history. ‘‘The acting here is much stronger and more soulful than I would have expected, and not only from Depp,’’ Wesley Morris wrote for Grantland.

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