'The Martian' Opens With Strong $55 Million Weekend

by Brad Brevet

October 4, 2015

The talk of The Martian breaking Gravity's October, opening weekend record began early and really spiked after the Ridley Scott film posted a better opening day than the 2013 Alfonso Cuaron sci-fi flick. However, estimates show The Martian coming up a shade shy of the $55.7 million October record. Provisioned with an "A" CinemaScore, though, this one should survive well week-to-week.

20th Century Fox is reporting an estimated $55 million weekend for The Martian, which puts it $785,112 short of the October opening record, but enough for second place on the chart. By comparison, Gravity scored an "A-" CinemaScore back in 2013 as it went on to enjoy weekends with drops no larger than 36.3% over its first seven weekends. In fact, over the course of its entire 31 week run, Gravity only dropped more than 50% three times. Being a major Oscar contender and 3D event film will do that. I expect big things in The Martian's future, but not sure I expect that big of things.

The Martian also opened in 49 international markets where it brought in an estimated $45.2 million, bringing its worldwide opening to $100.2 million with openings in top markets such as Germany, Russia, South Korea, Spain, France, Japan and China yet to come, some not until as late as February 2016.

For Martian star Matt Damon, this was his second largest opening ever behind The Bourne Ultimatum ($69.2m) and ahead of The Bourne Supremacy ($52.5m). Same for Scott whose largest opening weekend ever belongs to Hannibal ($58m) back in 2001, but Martian finishes ahead of his 2012 sci-fi feature Prometheus, which brought in $51 million in 2012.

The weekend's other major new release was The Walk, Robert Zemeckis' story of French wire-walker Philippe Petit starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The 3D feature opened in 448 IMAX and premium large format theaters on Wednesday the film and was never able to take off. After kicking things off on Wednesday with only $240,379, it finished its five-day run with an estimated $1.9 million, $1.5 million of that coming from the three-day weekend.

It's difficult to find comparisons as this limited, IMAX-only release pattern is new and relatively untested, but compared to Universal's Everest, which opened a couple weeks ago to a $7.2 million weekend from 545 IMAX and PLF theaters, this is clearly a disappointment for Sony's TriStar. The Walk expands to 2,500+ theaters next weekend so we'll see how it does once a larger audience has access to it. Perhaps it will be the opposite of what Everest has experienced, as that film has struggled to find a larger audience beyond its initial limited release.

Adding an additional 2,561 theaters this weekend, Sicario is also an unprecedented release as I struggled to find apt comparisons for my weekend predictions, yet my numbers lined up pretty close. Playing in 2,620 theaters, Sicario brought in $12 million this weekend. Similar movies might be films such as A History of Violence or Ex Machina earlier this year as both are R-rated, adult-targeted features that slowly expanded over the course of three weekends, but neither expanded as large as Sicario in their third weekends and it looks as if the audience supporting Sicario's impressive run also liked the film, earning it an "A-" CinemaScore. This could mean long legs and, perhaps, some well-deserved Oscar nominations for that score, cinematography and a couple of those solid performances.

In its second weekend, Sony's Hotel Transylvania 2 scared up an easy second place, dropping only 31.9% and bringing in $33 million as it continues to outperform its predecessor. Its cume is now up to $90.5 million, nearly $14 million more than where the first Hotel Transylvania was at this point two years ago.

Also performing well in its second weekend is Nancy Meyers The Intern, dropping only 34.5% for a $11.6 million second weekend, bringing its total to $36.5 million. This keeps it pretty much on par with Meyers' 2003 film Something's Gotta Give.

Dipping more than I'm sure BH Tilt would have preferred, Eli Roth's The Green Inferno fell 63% for a $1.2 million second weekend. I'm not entirely sure a cannibal horror film was the best film to start with when it comes to this targeted release experiment, but a nearly $6 million take for an '80s Italian horror homage isn't too bad. Inferno was made on a $5 million budget and carries somewhere around a $7 million marketing spend, so it's going to need a little more juice before all involved break even. Home video and television deals, however, should put this one in the clear.

In limited release, the thriller Talvar out of India scored $153k out of 50 theaters; Searchlight's documentary He Named Me Malala brought in $56k from four theaters; Freeheld starring Ellen Page and Julianne Moore took in only $40k from five theaters and the Weinstein's long-delayed Shanghai could only muster $256 per theater from 103 theaters for a $26,400 weekend.

You can find the complete weekend chart right here, we'll have actuals for you on Monday afternoon.

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo and author Brad Brevet at @bradbrevet.

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WEEKEND: Weekend Actuals, 'Maleficent 2' #1
DAILY: Friday, 'Maleficent 2' #1
WEEKLY: 'Joker' Tops the Week with $80.29m
DAILY: Thursday 10/17, (46 tracked)
DAILY: Wednesday, 10/16 (33 tracked)
DAILY: Tuesday, 10/15 (31 tracked)
DAILY: Monday, 10/14 (28 tracked)
New MPAA Ratings Added