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Friday Estimates: Maze Runner and Black Mass Make Strong Starts

September 19th, 2015

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

The Fall Season starts in earnest this weekend with the release of a Young Adult, dystopian-future action movie and an Older Adult dramatic thriller (not to mention a couple of pieces of counter-programming) vying for box office dollars, and, in one case, Oscar attention. Both films are getting off to good starts, based on Friday’s estimates. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is off to the best start with $11 million for the day and a projected weekend around $30 million. Black Mass will have to settle for second place with $8.8 million on Friday and around $25 million for the weekend.

Scorch Trials earned almost exactly the same amount on its opening day as The Maze Runner, which posted $11.2 million on its way to a $32.5 million opening weekend and $102 million domestic total. The comparative performances of Divergent and Insurgent provide a useful additional guide to prospects for the new movie. (See all four films compared here.) The pattern for films like this is generally that the sequel will have a similar or slightly bigger opening day, similar opening weekend, and end up with a lower total box office. Insurgent, for example, had a $52 million opening weekend, compared to $54 million for Divergent, and ended up with $130 million domestically to Divergent’s $150 million. If Scorch Trials follows that path, it’ll end up in the $80 million–$90 million range domestically. The series has more international appeal than Divergent, however, and a global haul north of $300 million still seems likely.

For Black Mass, Argo and Gone Girl are the obvious benchmarks, and the Johnny Depp drama looks as though it will slot between the two on its opening weekend. Argo earned $19.5 million on debut and ended up running right through awards season to gather a total domestic box office of $136 million. Gone Girl started with $37.5 million and finished with $168 million. Black Mass will be eyeing a total around $100 million, with a shot at more if it gets some Oscar nominations and can hang around in theaters long enough. Its run looks as though it will be largely on the backs of critical acclaim, however, as a B CinemaScore suggests it won’t have fantastic word of mouth.

The other notable new nationwide release yesterday was Everest, which took the unusual step of debuting in large screen venues only. It had the best theater average in the top ten, with $4,220, and starts out in fifth place on the chart. The only other film that has tried this release strategy is Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, which made $12.8 million on its opening weekend from 425 large screen theaters. The comparison isn’t entirely apt, as M:I had a built-in audience, but one thing the comparison tells us is that the early grosses don’t necessarily tell us very much about the final performance of the film. Ghost Protocol went to earn $209 million domestically after jumping to a $29.6 million second weekend when it expanded into all theaters. Everest’s likely $6 million-or-so opening weekend is just fine, but we’ll have to wait a little while before we know its overall performance.

The fate of the weekend’s other nationwide opener looks sealed, however. Captive pulled in just $647,000 on Friday, which is worse than 90 Minutes in Heaven managed last weekend. Hollywood has tested the limits of audience appetites for faith-based films this year, and we’re perhaps seeing what the market can bear.

One final note: Sicario had a great opening day in limited release, picking up an estimated $133,810 for Lionsgate it will be one to watch in the weeks to come.

- Friday estimates
- Maze Runner comps
- Black Mass comps
- Everest comps
- Captive comps

Bruce Nash,

Filed under: Friday Night Box Office, Everest, Black Mass, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Captive, Sicario, 90 Minutes in Heaven, Johnny Depp