Weekend Box Office (September 19 - 21, 2014)
THIS WEEKEND Another young adult novel hopes to cash in at the box office as The Maze Runner launches this weekend aiming for the top spot with shows starting at 10pm on Thursday night. The PG-13 adventure film lacks major star names, but instead will rely on the fan base of the best-selling book as well as impressive visuals to draw in paying moviegoers. IMAX and other premium large format screens will be part of the mix.
Teen boys and young men are being counted on to come out. But competition will be fierce, not from other movies, but from mobile devices, video game systems, plus college and NFL football. Those require little to no extra spending. Trailers and TV spots have been good and have presented a Hunger Games vibe. Reviews have been fair enough for this type of entry. And there is hardly anything all that exciting for teens and twentysomethings right now. Launching wide in over 3,500 locations, The Maze Runner might debut in the area of $26M.
60-ish superstars Liam Neeson and Denzel Washington collect big paychecks these days for anti-hero roles and they've got back-to-back R-rated crime thrillers hitting theaters starting this weekend. Neeson goes first with A Walk Among the Tombstones which puts the Taken star back into a familiar role which has been so commercially successful for him over the past five years. Universal has seen mixed reviews for Tombstones but the marketing push has been focused on the star and audiences have not yet tired of this entertainment dish he serves up. The film lacks the excitement that Non-Stop had when it debuted to a strong $28.9M earlier this year. But a solid turnout is likely from mature adults. Football will provide competition, though. Launching in more than 2,500 locations, Tombstones may open to around $17M.
The starpower vs. reviews battle makes its way to the box office once again with the comedy This Is Where I Leave You which features an ensemble of popular actors, but has been earning tepid reviews from film critics. The R-rated pic stars Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Rose Byrne and several others known for their small-screen roles. The Bateman-Fey combo may be potent - even though they play brother and sister. The trailer and TV spots have been decent, but have not given off that must-see vibe. Mature adults will make up the bulk of the audience and some bad reviews will sting. Plus the marketplace has a few other titles with more appeal for adults including Liam Neeson's latest which will be a factor. Opening in over 2,700 theaters, Warner Bros. may collect about $12M with Leave You.
Last week's top film No Good Deed may see half of its audience disappear. A 50% drop would give Sony about $12M and a new cume of $43M. Fellow sophomore Dolphin Tale 2 has no major competition for families looking for non-violent options for their kids. Look for a 35% slide to around $10M putting Warner Bros. at $28M to date. Guardians of the Galaxy may slide by 35% as well to roughly $5M boosting the stellar total to $314M.
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LAST YEAR Hugh Jackman scored another number one hit with the crime thriller Prisoners which bowed to $20.8M for Warner Bros. on its way to a $61M final. Insidious Chapter 2 tumbled by two-thirds from first to second with $13.8M followed by holdovers The Family and Instructions Not Included with $7M and $5.4M, respectively. The dance flick Battle of the Year debuted quietly in fifth with $4.6M heading to a weak $8.9M final for Sony.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: September 18, 2014 at 2:30PM ET
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