NORTH AMERICA: Weekend Estimates: 'The Martian' Scores Second Largest October Debut Ever with $55.0M Launch; 'Hotel Transylvania 2' a Strong Second with $33.0M; 'Sicario' Solid with $12.1M Expansion

on October 03, 2015

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Sunday Update: Fox's The Martian arrived with a strong estimated first place debut of $55.0 million this weekend. The critically acclaimed Ridley Scott directed 3D sci-fi film starring Matt Damon lived up to its already lofty expectations and claimed the second largest opening weekend performance ever for the month of October. The Martian opened just 1 percent below the $55.79 million debut of October record holder Gravity back in 2013. The comparison is especially impressive given that The Martian didn't have the advantage of higher priced IMAX admissions that Gravity had. The Martian opened 16 percent ahead of the $47.51 million debut of last year's Interstellar (which also had the advantage of higher priced IMAX admissions). An effective advertising campaign, strong critical reviews, the combined drawing power of Scott and Damon and the pre-established fanbase for the novel the film is based on all contributed to the success of The Martian this weekend.

The Martian opened with $18.13 million on Friday (which included an estimated $2.5 million from Thursday evening shows), increased a strong 23 percent on Saturday to gross $22.28 million and is estimated to decline 34.5 percent on Sunday to take in $14.6 million. That places the film's estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at a very promising 3.03 to 1. The Martian received a strong A rating on CinemaScore, which suggests that the film is going over just as well with moviegoers as it has with critics. Given both its strong critical reviews and strong early word of mouth, it is highly likely that The Martian will hold up very well throughout the month of October.

Sony's Hotel Transylvania 2 continued to impress with an estimated second place take of $33.0 million. The Adam Sandler led 3D computer animated film from Sony Pictures Animation held up very nicely this weekend, as it was down just 32 percent from last weekend's already stronger than expected launch. In comparison, 2012's Hotel Transylvania fell 36 percent in its second weekend to gross $27.05 million. Hotel Transylvania 2 has grossed $90.54 million through ten days of release. That places the film an impressive 18 percent ahead of the $76.71 million ten-day start of Hotel Transylvania and represents a very nice rebound for both Sandler and Sony from the lackluster performance of Pixels this summer. While it will soon face new competition for family audiences from both Warner's Pan and fellow Sony release Goosebumps, Hotel Transylvania 2 still has a very good chance of continuing to hold up well throughout the month of October, especially with the aid of the approaching Halloween holiday and no new animated films entering the marketplace until Fox's The Peanuts Movie arrives on November 6th.

On the heels of its impressive two-week performance in platform release, Lionsgate's Sicario had a very solid expansion into wide release with an estimated third place take of $12.08 million. The critically acclaimed crime thriller starring Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin performed in line with expectations. Thanks in part to strong critical reviews and the buzz generated from the film's platform performance; Sicario was able to hold its own in the face of The Martian this weekend. This weekend's performance for Sicario was only 9 percent below the $13.24 million expansion performance of Universal's Everest last weekend. Going forward, Sicario is likely to hold up better than Everest has.

Sicario grossed $4.29 million on Friday, increased 9 percent on Saturday to take in $4.66 million and is estimated to decline 33 percent on Sunday to gross $3.13 million. That gives the film an estimated weekend to Friday ratio of 2.81 to 1. Sicario received a healthy A- rating on CinemaScore.

Warner's The Intern held up nicely in its second weekend with an estimated fourth place take of $11.62 million. The Nancy Meyers directed comedy starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway was down 34 percent from last weekend. In a fall moviegoing season filled with more serious fare thus far, The Intern is appealing to moviegoers in the mood for a comedy and has taken in $36.52 million in ten days. The film is running 9 percent ahead of the $33.47 million ten-day take of 2013's Last Vegas (which fell 32 percent in its second weekend to gross $11.04 million). Expect The Intern to continue to display healthy holding power going forward.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials rounded out the weekend's top five with an estimated $7.65 million. The young adult sequel from Fox fell 46 percent, as the film continues to understandably display more front-loading than its predecessor did last year. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials has grossed $63.24 million in 17 days. That is below expectations and places the film 14 percent behind the $73.56 million 17-day gross of The Maze Runner.

Meanwhile, Sony's The Walk was off to a soft start this weekend in moderate release. The critically acclaimed 3D Robert Zemeckis directed film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt only managed an estimated $1.55 million from 448 exclusive IMAX and PLF locations. That gave The Walk a per-location average of just $3,460 for the frame. The Walk has grossed $1.97 million through five days of release. Despite strong critical reviews, The Walk is clearly feeling the negative effects of facing very tough competition and not having the most mainstream friendly concept to begin with. The Walk will hope to build momentum off of its strong critical reviews when it goes into wide release next weekend, but that will be easier said than done after this weekend's performance.

Saturday Update: Fox reports that The Martian landed with a fantastic opening day of $18 million on Friday, including the adaptation's $2.5 million Thursday night haul. That gives it the best opening day of all-time for an October release, edging out Gravity's $17.5 million two years ago this weekend. That figure also tops Interstellar's $16.9 million first Friday (although it earned $2.15 million in limited release over the previous two days), while giving Matt Damon his best career opening day outside the Bourne franchise (The Bourne Ultimatum debuted to $24.7 million; Supremacy to $18.44 million. Last but not least, this is also director Ridley Scott's third best opening day after Prometheus ($21.5 million) and 2001's Hannibal ($19.3 million) -- in other words, making it his best first day gross among non-sequels and non-franchises.

Even better news for the adaptation of Andy Weir's best-selling novel is the fact that early word of mouth is lining up with critical reviews. Flixster users and Rotten Tomatoes critics each give it a high 94 percent score as of Saturday morning, both of which rank among the best scores by any wide release this year. Worth noting is that the film did earn a bit less on Friday "proper" ($15.5 million without Thursday grosses) than Gravity did ($16.1 million), and for that reason we're not quite pulling the trigger on calling an October opening weekend record (Gravity holds it at $55.8 million). Still, it should be pretty close even if it does fall short, and all of the aforementioned good signs point to a leggy run. BoxOffice's official projection as of Saturday morning is for a stellar $54 million debut frame.

Moving down to second place yesterday, Hotel Transylvania 2 eased 44 percent from its first day last Friday to $7.5 million. That gives the hit animated sequel an eight-day domestic take of $65.04 million -- putting it 16 percent ahead of its 2012 predecessor at the same point. BoxOffice projects a $31 million sophomore frame.

Expanding into wide release after two weeks of strong limited play, Denis Villeneuve's Sicario pulled an encouraging $4.28 million from 2,620 theaters on Friday in third place. That gives the strongly reviewed film a $7.28 million domestic total now, and early buzz is very positive with a 90 percent Flixster score alongside the well-documented 92 percent critical vote. BoxOffice is projecting a $13 million weekend.

In fourth place, The Intern eased 43 percent from opening day last week to $3.57 million yesterday. Writer/director Nancy Meyers' latest success has pulled $28.47 million through eight days of release, putting it 45 percent ahead of the pace of her 2006 film, The Holiday. BoxOffice is projecting a second weekend of $11.5 million.

In fifth, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials posted $2.1 million for a 49 percent week-to-week drop. With a sum of $57.7 million domestically so far, BoxOffice projects a $7.3 million weekend.

Meanwhile, The Walk is unfortunately not off to the kind of start in IMAX theaters that was hoped for. The strongly reviewed (86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) film based on tight-rope walker Philippe Petit (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) earned just $390,000 from its 448 locations yesterday, giving it a three-day total of $0.81 million. That falls well short of the benchmark achieved by Everest's early IMAX release just a couple of weeks ago, however audience reception is trending upward as its Flixster score has increased from 77 percent to 84 percent since Wednesday evening. Given the amount of competition in the marketplace right now, the film's nationwide expansion could benefit from that positive word of mouth in the weeks ahead. For now, BoxOffice is projecting a $1.25 million three-day weekend.

Follow BoxOffice on Sunday for updated weekend estimates from the studios.

Update #2: According to early numbers, here's how the weekend looks to be shaping up:

The Martian: $52 million-$54 million
Hotel Transylvania 2: $27 million-$29 million
Sicario: $9.5 million-$11.5 million
The Walk: $3 million-$4 million (5 day) 

Check back tomorrow for updated projections and official studio numbers.  

Update #1: With $2.5 million from Thursday evening shows, The Martian is off to an excellent start. The tally compares favorably to the $1.4 million haul that Gravity posted from Thursday evening shows on its way to a $55.8 million debut back in October 2013. Gravity still holds the record for the best October opening of all time, and The Martian certainly has a shot at breaking it.

More to come...

Tags: The Walk, Sicario, Hotel Transylvania 2, The Martian, north-america

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