Box-Office Preview: Boys Could Propel 'Maze Runner' to Strong $30 Million-Plus Debut

Shawn Levy's 'This Is Where I Leave You' and Liam Neeson's 'A Walk Among the Tombstones' will rely on adults

Thanks to keen interest among young moviegoers, The Maze Runner should easily shoot to the top of the North American box office with a debut of $30 million or more. Younger males in particular will play a crucial role if they turn out in force, since they are making fewer trips to the multiplex, unlike their female counterparts.

Maze Runner, marking the first YA film adaptation largely anchored by teen boys, hopes to launch a new franchise for 20th Century Fox, which spent $34 million to make the dystopian thriller. Dylan O'Brien (Teen Wolf) Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya Scodelario and Will Poulter star in the movie, which will play in more than 3,500 locations, including Imax theaters.

The story follows O'Brien's character as he wakes up with no memory inside the center of a giant maze, an area known as The Glade, surrounded by other teen boys who likewise have lost their memories. Threatening them all are vicious creatures known as Grievers. The boys look for a way out of the maze, but it isn't until a mysterious girl arrives that they have a fighting chance. According to prerelease tracking, younger females are most interesting in seeing Maze Runner, followed by younger males.

Wes Ball directed from an adapted script by Noah Oppenheim.

The weekend's other two new nationwide offerings, Liam Neeson's action film A Walk Among the Tombstones and director Shawn Levy's This Is Where I Leave You, are looking at much more modest opens and will cater to an older crowd.

From Cross Creek Pictures, Tombstones is expected to open in the mid teens. That's lower than Neeson's other recent action outings, including this year's Non-Stop, which debuted to $28.9 million, although most of those titles were rated PG-13, versus an R for Tombstones (insiders also note Tombstones' darker tone).

The movie is based on Lawrence Block's best-selling mystery novels, and stars Neeson as an ex-New York City cop named Matt Scudder who now works as an unlicensed private investigator and is hired by a drug dealer to find the dealer's kidnapped wife.

Universal is distributing Walk Among Tombstones in the U.S., while Entertainment One has Canada. Older males, as expected, are most interested in seeing the film, but their wives or girlfriends could try to convince them to see This Is Where I Leave You instead.

This Is Where I Leave You is a marked departure for Levy, who generally sticks to big commercial fare. The dramedy cost a modest $20 million to make but certainly doesn't lack star power, boasting a cast led by Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne and Jane Fonda.

From Warner Bros. and based on Jonathan Tropper's novel, This Is Where I Leave You follows four siblings who reunite at their family home to sit shivah for their dead father (Tropper wrote the adapted screenplay). The movie made its world premiere earlier this month at the Toronto Film Festival, and is projected to open in the low to mid teens.

Several other Toronto titles debut this weekend, albeit in more limited runs, including Kevin Smith's Tusk, which A24 rolls out in roughly 500 theaters, and Relativity Media's British comedy Hector and the Search for Happiness, which debuts in New York and Los Angeles.

Other new specialty offerings include Mia Wasikowska's Tracks, from The Weinstein Co., and Amplify's The Zero Theorem, directed by Terry Gilliam.