'Maze' and 'Mass' Top Box Office, but 'Everest' and 'Sicario' are the Story

by Brad Brevet

September 20, 2015

The weekend box office is up from last year with the arrival of two new wide releases, the latest young adult adaptation, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, and the Johnny Depp-led Whitey Bulger story, Black Mass. However, the weekend's biggest news doesn't come with the wide releases. The true talking points come when we look at the limited, IMAX and premium large format release of Universal's Everest and the release of Sicario in only six theaters. But let's start at the topů

Topping the weekend was Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials with $30.3 million to go along with a "B+" CinemaScore. Both the weekend box office and score are down from the first film in the franchise, last year's The Maze Runner, which opened with $32.5 million and an "A-" CinemaScore. This makes for an easy comparison with the Divergent series, which saw the second film open with $2.4 million less than its predecessor. Worldwide, Scorch Trials has already brought in $78 million for a worldwide come of $108.3 million.

In second, Black Mass managed an estimated $23.36 million and a "B" CinemaScore. That CinemaScore doesn't necessarily bode well for the film's future prospects as most of the talk surrounding the feature has centered on Depp's performance and not the movie itself. This opening puts the film on par with 2010's The Town, which opened with $23.8 million, but below 2006's The Departed, which opened with $26.8 million. Black Mass, however, opened in more theaters than both of them.

Universal continues its record-breaking year, this time with the unprecedented decision to open Everest, a new, non-franchise release, on IMAX and premium large format screens exclusively before going wide next weekend. The bet paid off. The harrowing 3D feature proved a success in 545 theaters, bringing in $7.5 million for a $13,867 per theater average. It's a little off my $8.7 million prediction, but the only real comparison to look at was 2011's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, which was not only the fourth film in a successful franchise, but a holiday release to boot. Taking that into consideration, this result nearly doubles the previous September IMAX, domestic opening record of $3.1 million set by The Equalizer last year.

In addition to the domestic release, Everest added another $28.2 million from 36 international territories, propelling Universal Pictures International (UPI) past the $4 billion mark, bringing the studio's worldwide total to nearly $6.3 billion worldwide. The film opened at number one in Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Iceland, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, South Africa and U.K. and Ireland.

Everest goes wide next weekend and not only will Universal be licking their chops to see how it performs, but TriStar will be keeping a watchful eye as well. They too are using a similar release strategy in early October with Robert Zemekis' The Walk. The marketing on that one is already underway with an interesting write-up in the New York Times this weekend, two weeks ahead of release.

Then we come to Lionsgate's Sicario which was massive in limited release. Opening in only six theaters, the film brought in an impressive $390,000 for a $65,000 per theater average, a record for 2015 and the second highest ever for a Lionsgate release. The film will enjoy a limited expansion next weekend before releasing nationwide on October 2.

Looking at last weekend's new releases, M. Night Shyamalan's thriller The Visit dropped 55% for an estimated three-day total of $11.3 million, bringing the film's come to $42.3 million. Meanwhile, Sony's The Perfect Guy took an even steeper tumble, dropping 63% from its chart-topping opening weekend, slipping to fourth place and an estimated $9.6 million sophomore effort.

For a complete look at this weekend's results click here, estimates will be updated Monday afternoon.

Next weekend sees the release of Hotel Transylvania 2, The Intern with Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro and Eli Roth's long-delayed cannibal thriller The Green Inferno. For a full look at next weekend's new titles click here.

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New MPAA Ratings Added
DAILY: Monday, 9/16 (39 tracked)
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DAILY: Thursday 9/12, (51 tracked)
DAILY: Wednesday, 9/11 (39 tracked)