Weekend Box Office (October 2 - 4, 2015)

by Gitesh Pandya

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 $55M. 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 $55.8M 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 $69.3M 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 $250M 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% male and 72% over 25. The Martian scored with 3D as the format represented 45% 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% of the take with the studio reporting they ran at near-capacity levels.

The Martian launched in 40% of the international marketplace this weekend with an estimated $45.2M making for a global debut of $100.2M. 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 $33M. The Adam Sandler animated comedy declined by just 32% which was better than the first film's 36% and the 38% 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 $90.5M which is 18% ahead of its 2012 predecessor and could be headed for the $175M 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 $12.1M 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 $15.1M 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%. Warner Bros. has collected $36.5M to date and could be headed for an admirable $65-70M finish.

It was a good third weekend for the sci-fi sequel Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials which grossed an estimated $7.7M slipping 46%. Fox's cume is now $63.2M which is 14% behind the pace of last fall's predecessor. Johnny Depp's crime saga Black Mass fell 47% to an estimated $5.9M giving Warner Bros. $52.5M 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% to an estimated $5.5M from conventional playdates for a total of $33.2M. The studio's low-budget thriller The Visit fared well for a fright flick and dipped 41% to an estimated $4M raising the total to $57.7M. 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 $5M 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 $113M together. The faith-based drama War Room made an estimated $2.8M, off 34%, for a new cume of $60.5M. Dropping 50% to an estimated $2.4M was the romantic thriller The Perfect Guy which has scared up $52.6M 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 $1.6M 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 $7.2M 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 $139.9M which was up 3% from last year when Gone Girl opened at number one with $37.5M; and up 26% from 2013 when Gravity debuted in the top spot with $55.8M.

Compared to projections, The Martian soared higher than my $41M forecast while Sicario was on target with my $13M prediction.

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For a NEW review of He Named Me Malala visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Monday for final figures and again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Pan opens.

# Title Oct 2 - 4 Sep 25 - 27 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Martian $ 54,308,575 3,831 1 $ 14,176 $ 54,308,575 Fox
2 Hotel Transylvania 2 33,192,596 48,464,322 -31.5 3,754 2 8,842 90,734,361 Sony
3 Sicario 12,148,041 1,717,301 607.4 2,620 3 4,637 15,149,336 Lionsgate
4 The Intern 11,685,064 17,728,313 -34.1 3,320 2 3,520 36,588,956 Warner Bros.
5 Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials 7,804,991 14,271,777 -45.3 3,319 3 2,352 63,396,115 Fox
6 Black Mass 5,846,126 11,031,215 -47.0 2,768 3 2,112 52,462,156 Warner Bros.
7 Everest 5,640,500 13,242,895 -57.4 3,009 3 1,875 33,311,810 Universal
8 The Visit 3,972,020 6,674,280 -40.5 2,296 4 1,730 57,717,110 Universal
9 War Room 2,824,067 4,242,644 -33.4 1,746 6 1,617 60,568,680 Sony
10 The Perfect Guy 2,412,366 4,774,505 -49.5 1,364 4 1,769 52,627,556 Sony
11 The Walk (IMAX/PLF only) 1,560,299 448 1 3,483 1,982,573 Sony
12 The Green Inferno 1,313,799 3,520,626 -62.7 1,543 2 851 5,956,222 BH Tilt
13 Singh is Bliing 487,042 138 1 3,529 487,042 Eros
14 Pixels 471,116 783,712 -39.9 331 11 1,423 77,812,010 Sony
15 A Walk in the Woods 448,887 1,107,264 -59.5 553 5 812 28,425,479 Broad Green
16 Grandma 393,029 773,130 -49.2 315 7 1,248 5,885,121 Sony Classics
17 Pawn Sacrifice 370,028 1,005,071 -63.2 671 3 551 2,062,534 Bleecker St.
18 Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation 332,885 901,617 -63.1 377 10 883 194,109,254 Paramount
19 Minions 308,725 436,020 -29.2 265 13 1,165 333,909,265 Universal
20 Jurassic World 292,220 390,450 -25.2 254 17 1,150 650,831,970 Universal
Top 5 $ 119,139,267 $ 104,738,522 13.7
Top 10 139,834,346 125,667,878 11.3
Top 20 145,812,376 132,768,158 9.8
Top 20 vs. 2014 145,812,376 144,302,894 1.0

Last Updated: October 4, 2015 at 2:30PM ET

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