Box Office: 'Maze Runner' Sequel No. 1 With $30.3M; 'Black Mass' Scores $23.4M

Johnny Depp's 'Black Mass' and 'Sicario' kick off awards season in earnest; elsewhere, 'Everest' opens exclusively in Imax and premium large-format theaters.

Fox's YA film adaptation Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials won the North American box-office race with $30.3 million from 3,796 theaters, while Johnny Depp's violent crime drama Black Mass delivered the actor a needed win with $23.4 million from 3,186 locations as awards season gets underway.

Scorch Trials came in just behind the first film, which debuted to $32.5 million on the same weekend a year ago. The movie also won the international box-office contest, earning another $43.3 million from 66 markets for a foreign total of $78 million and early worldwide cume of $108.3 million (it opened a week ago in some territories).

Internationally, the sequel placed No. 1 in 30 countries, including grossing a sizable $7.5 million in South Korea. In North America, Scorch Trials over-indexed in cities including Dallas, San Antonio, Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Seattle, Portland and parts of Canada, including Montreal and Vancouver.

From Warner Bros., Black Mass, starring Depp as Boston's infamous Irish-American mobster Whitey Bulger, is counting on a long run throughout awards season. One question mark is the adult drama's B CinemaScore; many expected the R-rated title to get a better grade after a whirlwind tour on the fall festival circuit and generally positive reviews from critics.

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, cost $53 million to produce.

Depp, who stars opposite Joel Edgerton and Benedict Cumberbatch, needed to make a strong showing after suffering a string of box-office disappointments, including Mortdecai and The Lone Ranger. Black Mass skewed notably older, with nearly 90 percent of the audience over the age of 25, and more than 40 percent over the age of 50. The male-skewing film (56 percent) dramatically overperformed in Boston, where Bulger ruled before going on the lamb.

"It's all about Johnny Depp. He gives such an extraordinary performance in this film, and that is what everybody is talking about. He's a guy that swings for the fences, and sometimes falls short. But when he connects with the bat, he hits it out of the park," said Warners executive vp distribution Jeff Goldstein.

Scorch Trials, rated PG-13, relied on younger consumers, with 63 percent of the audience under the age of 25. Females made up 53 percent of ticket buyers, slightly more than the first Maze Runner. It also played to an ethnically diverse audience.

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 $61 million 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.

"The takeaway is that the film came in essentially identical to the first one, which says to me that we have a loyal and consistent fan base," said Fox domestic distribution president Chris Aronson, reminding that a third Maze Runner is already dated for Feb. 17, 2017.

Thank in large measure to Maze Runner and Black Mass, domestic box office revenue was up more than 8 percent over last year.

Black Mass competed with Baltasar Kormakur's adventure Everest for males. In an unusual rollout, Everest only debuted in 545 Imax and premium large-format theaters a week ahead of its nationwide launch. Placing No. 5, the action-adventure film grossed $7.6 million for a promising location average of $13,867, including $6 million from 366 Imax sites, Imax's best September opening. Everest earned an A CinemaScore.

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.

Internationally, Everest opened in 36 markets this weekend, earning $28 million, pushing the movie's early global total to $35.8 million. It placed No. 1 in a raft of markets, including Mexico, Australia and Argentina. Better yet, Universal has crossed a record-breaking $4 billion at the international box office, a first for any studio.

Paramount also entered 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 playing in 806 theaters, earning an estimated $1.5 million and putting it at No. 10. The movie was overshadowed by Christian drama War Room, which took in $6.3 million in its third weekend for Sony/TriStar for a cume of $49 million, the fifth-best showing for a faith-based title.

Captive, costing just $2 million to 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. Smith later wrote a book, Unlikely Angel.

Back in the top five, M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit placed No. 3 in its second weekend with $11.3 million from 3,148 locations for a domestic total of $42.3 million and falling a respectable 55 percent. Sony/TriStar's The Perfect Guy, coming in No. 4, fell 63 percent in its sophomore frame, grossing $9.7 million from 2,230 theaters for a domestic total of $41.3 million.

At the specialty box office, two high-profile awards contenders debuted: 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 launched Sicario in six theaters in New York and Los Angeles, where the movie prospered for a gross of $390,000 and screen average of $65,000, the top showing of the year so far.

Pawn Sacrifice, rolling out in 33 locations, opened to $206,879 for a theater average of $6,269 for Bleecker Street, which will expand the film into as many as 800 theaters next weekend.

Weekend Box Office 9/20/15

Rentrak Actuals for Weekend of 9/20/15
Weekend Cume Theaters Week
1. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials $30.3M $30.3M 3791 1
2. Black Mass $23.6M $22.6M 3188 1
3. The Visit $11.6M $42.6M 3148 2
4. The Perfect Guy $9.8M $41.5M 2230 2
5. Everest $7.2M $7.2M 545 1
6. War Room $6.2M $49.1M 1945 4
7. A Walk in the Woods $2.8M $24.9M 2158 3
8. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation $2.2M $191.7M 2202 8
9. Straight Outta Compton $1.9M $158.9M 1938 6
10. Grandma $1.5M $3.7M 1021 5