Here’s your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. The Martian – $55.0 million ($55.0 million total)

2. Hotel Transylvania 2 – $33.0 million ($90.5 million total)

3. Sicario – $12.0 million ($15.0 million total)

4. The Intern – $11.6 million ($36.5 million total)

5. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials – $7.6 million ($63.2 million total)

6. Black Mass – $5.9 million ($52.5 million total)

7. Everest – $5.5 million ($33.1 million total)

8. The Visit – $3.9 million ($56.9 million total)

9. War Room – $2.8 million ($60.5 million total)

10. The Perfect Guy – $2.4 million ($52.6 million total)

The Big Stories

“It’s like ‘Gravity‘ meets ‘Cast Away‘.” That is what I heard one industry executive (or uncreative reviewer) refer to Ridley Scott’s The Martian upon walking out of it after its first screening at the Toronto Film Festival this year. Never mind it’s more Apollo 13 meets Robinson Crusoe On Mars. The other description is shorter, catchier and sells more tickets. Both were also huge successes at the box office (as was Apollo 13) and the adaptation of Andy Weir’s book did precisely what Fox was hoping it would do this week


Is That Liquid? No, It’s Just Damon.

On this week’s Movies Money segment on Business First AM, I said that The Martian coming up anywhere between the openings of 2013’s Gravity ($55.7 million) and last year’s Interstellar ($47.5 million) would be a good thing. And that is precisely where it landed. It outdid Ridley Scott’s opening for Prometheus ($51 million) but missed out on besting 2001’s Hannibal ($58 million) for the top spot. It is also Matt Damon’s best non-Bourne opening and second overall – ahead of The Bourne Supremacy ($52.5 million) but behind The Bourne Ultimatum‘s $69.2 million. Gravity and Interstellar posted multipliers of 4.91 and 3.95 and Cinemascore’s of “A-” and “B+”, respectively. The Martian has started with an “A” but how far can the other number go.

Going back to 2007, the “A” grade in October has not exactly been the most impressive of lists (Alex Cross, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Captain Phillips, The Express,Footloose (2011), Here Comes the Boom, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Real Steel, Secretariat.) But six of the nine did range from the 3.12 of Real Steel to the 4.70 of Secretariat. None of them posted as high an opening as The Martian did though. (High School Musical 3 opened to $42 million and had the second lowest of the nine with a 2.15.) As Ridley’s film is the second best opener ever in October there is not a lot to compare it to this month. Of the previous top ten openers only four (Gravity, Gone Girl, Puss in Boots and Couples Retreat) managed to go over the 3x mark. Those first three were well over 4x.

That is the range The Martian hopes to hit in a quest for $200 million in the U.S. and there may be some hope. Since 2007 there have been 22 films that have received not just an “A” Cinemascore but also a Rotten Tomatoes score of 90% or higher.

Toy Story, Toy Story 3, Paddington, How to Train Your Dragon, Inside Out, The Muppets, Ratatouille, WALL-E, The Lego Movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Moneyball, Star Trek, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Captain Phillips, The Bourne Ultimatum, A Bug’s Life, How To Train Your Dragon 2, Skyfall, Hairspray, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy

20 of them have at least reached the 3x multiplier. So let’s set The Martian‘s basement at $157.5 million. 13 of the 22 reached $200 million and the 12 that started higher than The Martian averaged a 3.33, which would put it at $174.8 million. Next week it faces an expansion of The Walk but on about 1300 less screens. The IMAX surcharge did not even get Robert Zemeckis’ film into the top ten this week, which has to be a bit of a disappointment seeing as how even Everest (which continues to die) started with $7.2 million on 545 IMAX screens compared to the $1.5 million this weekend for The Walk on 448.  Then again everyone was out seeing The Martian.

There are no less than 14 more wide releases headed into theaters this month alone. Next week’s drop will be key to its final number. Anything over $30 million would be great. Under $25 less so. Gravity and Interstellar made $723 $675 million worldwide. Ridley Scott has never done better than Gladiator‘s $457 million, but that could indeed change this year. With a purported budget of $108 million, The Martian should have no problem getting home to the black and that would give Fox back-to-back hits along with Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials which is already into profit.


So It’s Not A Wolfman Sequel?

Nope, Sicario is not Spanish for Lycanthrope. But Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro’s latest film did move up the charts after finally expanding wide in its third weekend. This is what you might call a small victory for Lionsgate, which has not exactly been having a good year.

Of course that will all be corrected once Mockingjay Part 2 opens. Shaun the Sheep Movie did fairly well internationally but without a full budget breakdown it is hard to believe it did any better than break even. Sicario, on the other hand, had a $30 million production budget and has $15 million in the bank now in the U.S. and another $10 million internationlly.

Of the 24 films since 2007 to open between $10-15 million in October only eight of them reached $40 million. (Dan in Real Life, Here Comes the Boom, The Ides of March, John Wick, The Judge, Life as We Know It, Michael Clayton, Secretariat.) Again, 14 more wide releases headed for theaters this month so likely just two more weeks in the top ten before it hopes to be thought of again during awards season.


Tales of the Top Ten

Sony has to be back in love with Adam Sandler at the moment as Hotel Transylvania 2 posted the best second weekend ever for a September opener with $33 million. That’s almost $6 million better than the previous record holder – the first Hotel Transylvania – and the sequel is now almost $15 million ahead of the pace of the original. The film still needs another $140 million to break into profit, but it seems like half of that may come just in the U.S. — and seeing how the 2012 film did $210 million internationally (Part 2 has generated $29 million so far) this is going to be a solid hit for the studio as it braces itself for the opening of The Walk next weekend – which was shot for a very minimal $35 million.

Tri-Star’s War Room, meanwhile, passed the $60 million mark and is Sony’s biggest success since 22 Jump Street. Profit-to-budget-wise it is poised to pass even Heaven Is For Real in the next few days.

Speaking of a studio in need of a hit, Warner Bros. is hoping to ride the sleeper status of The Intern. Holding very nicely at $11.6 million (down from $17.7), Nancy Meyers’ film could be headed for the $60 million speculated as a possibility last week. But it still needs another $90 million to get out of the red.

Same goes for the studio’s Black Mass, which is headed towards the $62 million I considered doable but it will still need another $100 million internationally to not come up a disappointment. It has only opened in five international markets to date.

Universal, on the other hand, is having the year of years and if they have a disappointment here and there nobody is going to panic in the near future. Even M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit is a hit for them – thanks in part to a Blumhouse budget – but a solid $60 million number after a strong opening.

Everest is not exactly doing inspiring business in the U.S. and will not hit $50 million. But with $74 million overseas already, there is still a possibility that the $55 million-budgeted film (plus $35 for PA) could still reach the roughly $230 million it needs to get out of the red. It currently stands at $136 million total while Universal has Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak and Jon Chu’s Jem and the Holograms hitting theaters all this month.

One of those films is Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk, which as mentioned may seem like a disappointment in its IMAX launch from this past Wednesday. However reports of great word-of-mouth are trickling in and its business jumped a whopping 81% from Friday-to-Saturday. This could be the kind of visceral Gravity-like experience that moviegoers make an appointment to see on the biggest screen possible.

– Erik Childress can be heard each week on the WGN Radio Podcast evaluating box office with Nick Digilio as well as on Business First AM with Angela Miles

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]


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