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Scorch Trials took in an estimated $11 million from 3,791 theaters Friday for a projected $31.3 million weekend, just behind the first film.
From Warner Bros., Black Mass, starring Depp as infamous Boston’s Irish-American mobster Whitey Bulger, placed second Friday with $8.8 million from 3,188 locations for a solid $24 million-$25 million debut, a strong start for a violent adult drama. One question mark is the award hopeful’s B CinemaScore; many expected it to get a better grade after a whirlwind tour on the fall festival circuit.
Warners has had plenty of luck with fall adult dramas in the past. Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed opened to $26.9 million in early October 2006 on its way to grossing $132.4 million domestically, while Ben Affleck‘s Argo launched to $19.5 million in October 2012 on its way to earning $136 million (both films took home the Oscar for best picture). Black Mass, directed by Scott Cooper and rated R, cost $53 million to produce.
Depp, who stars opposite Joel Edgerton and Benedict Cumberbatch, could use a win after suffering a string of box-office disappointments, including Mortdecai and The Lone Ranger.
Black Mass is doing best among males (61 percent), while nearly 80 percent of Friday’s audience was over the age of 25, according to Rentrak. (Not surprisingly, the movie is overperforming in the Boston area.) Conversely, Maze Runner, rated PG-13, is scoring big with younger consumers, with 65 percent of the audience under the age of 25. Females made up 53 percent of Friday’s ticket buyers.
Scorch Trials, costing $61 million to make, opens exactly a year after The Maze Runner surprised with a $32.5 million domestic opening on its way to earning $102.4 million in North America and $238.2 million overseas for a stellar global haul of $340.8 million. The sequel, earning a B+ CinemaScore, is already off to a rousing start internationally, where it took in $26 million from select foreign markets last weekend, well ahead of the first movie.
Wes Ball returns in the director’s chair, along with actors Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario and Patricia Clarkson. Giancarlo Esposito, Barry Pepper and Lili Taylor are among those joining the franchise. The sequel picks up immediately after the events in the first film, as Thomas and his fellow Gladers try to survive the Scorch, a desolate, dangerous landscape, while continuing to battle the W.C.K.D.
Black Mass is competing for male attention with Baltasar Kormakur‘s adventure Everest. In an unusual rollout, Everest is only opening in some 545 Imax and premium large-format theaters this weekend before playing everywhere Sept. 25. The movie grossed $2.3 million for an estimated $7.1 million weekend, good enough for a fifth place finish.
Everest, which like Black Mass, made its world premiere at the 2015 Venice Film Festival, stars Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Emily Watson and Jake Gyllenhaal. Working Title, Cross Creek Pictures and Walden Media partnered with Universal on the $55 million film, with Cross Creek and Walden co-financing.
Overseas, Everest opens in 36 markets this weekend, and is expected to gross $26.5 million, including an expected first-place finish in Mexico, Argentina and Australia.
Paramount also enters the fray this weekend with faith-based drama Captive, starring David Oyelowo and Kate Mara (the studio acquired the film this spring after working with Oyelowo on Selma). Captive is only paying in 806 theaters, earning $806,000 Friday for a projected $1.8 million weekend and putting it at No. 10.
The $2 million film is based on the true story of Ashley Smith and Brian Nichols, who took Smith hostage in her own apartment. During the ordeal, Smith turned to Rick Warren‘s inspirational book, The Purpose Driven Life, for guidance to startling results for both herself and Nichols. Ashley later wrote a book, Unlikely Angel.
At the specialty box office, two high-profile awards contenders are opening this weekend: Denis Villeneuve‘s acclaimed crime-thriller Sicario, starring Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin; and Edward Zwick‘s Pawn Sacrifice, starring Tobey Maguire as chess champion Bobby Fischer and Liev Schreiber as his Russian rival, Boris Spassky.
Lionsgate is launching Sicario in six theaters in New York and Los Angeles, where the movie is prospering for a projected weekend gross of $450,000 and massive screen average of $75,000 — the top average of the year so far and the best showing since The Imitation Game ($119,838) in November 2014.
Pawn Sacrifice, rolling out in 33 locations, is expected to take in $172,000 for the weekend for a location average of $5,208.
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