On Friday morning, first-time feature director Wes Ball was sweating bullets. His debut film was opening and he was nervous despite the early positive numbers that were already flooding into the box office reporters. “I just don’t want anything to go wrong,” said the young filmmaker in an interview for Entertainment Weekly Radio.
Well, clearly nothing has gone awry with the director’s first entre into feature filmmaking.
For the male-populated young adult adaptation of James Dashner’s best-selling novel The Maze Runner racked up an estimated $32.5 million for a first-place finish, giving Twentieth Century Fox all the necessary reasons to push forward on the sequel–which is in already in pre-production in New Mexico and is set to start shooting in the next six weeks.
The film scored an A- with audiences, according to exit pollster CinemaScore. Though the sci-fi flick was thought to appeal primarily to boys due to its all-male cast (led by Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien), girls came out in droves to watch the Lord of the Flies-like scenario play out. In fact, females–under 25–dominated the movie-going audience for this film at 51%.
The rest of the new releases didn’t fare as well.
The Liam Neeson-starrer A Walk Among the Tombstones grossed an estimated $13.1 million for the three-day frame, not great for what could have been the start to a franchise based on the Lawrence Block’s series of novels about private investigator Matthew Scudder. The ultra-violent R-rated pic didn’t score well with critics or audiences, who gave it a B- according to CinemaScore. The movie also bowed well below Neeson’s most recent actioners like Non-Stop, which opened to $28.8 million, or The Grey, which bowed to $19 million.
Third place for the weekend went to the family R-rated dramedy This is Where I Leave You, an adaptation of the Jonathan Tropper novel of the same name. A likeable cast led by Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Jane Fonda coupled with a B+ CinemaScore from audiences would have suggested a robust bow. However, adults just didn’t come out to the theater, putting the wide release’s total at an estimated $11.9 million–beneath even what the studio was estimating for the weekend.
The rest of the weekend’s top five was dominated by holdovers. The Idris Elba, Taraji Henson-starrer No Good Deed earned an additional $10.2 million for the weekend, putting its total cume at an estimated $40.1 million. And family flick Dolphin Tale 2, starring Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman (can you say paycheck movie), grossed an estimated $9 million, putting its two-week total at $27 million.
Outside of the top five, Guardians of the Galaxy just won’t quit. The runaway success from Marvel added another $5 million to its astounding cume of $313 million, surpassing Iron Man 2’s ultimate domestic gross. Fox Searchlight’s The Drop, starring Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini (in his last role), grossed an additional $2 million as the studio added close to 400 theaters to its box-office run. The film, from Bullhead director Michael Roskam, now has a cume that stands at $7.6 million.
In the limited new release arena Simon Pegg’s whimsical film Hector and the Search for Happiness earned an estimated $46,000 in four theaters while The Weinstein Co.’s limited release of Tracks, the Mia Wasikowska-starrer about Australian adventurer Robyn Davidson, grossed $21,000 in its four theaters. Kevin Smith’s latest, Tusk, grossed a paltry $886,000 in its 602 theaters.
Top Five Films of the Weekend:
The Maze Runner— $32.5 million
A Walk Among the Tombstones — $13.1 million
This is Where I Leave You — $11.9 million
No Good Deed — $10.2 million (Total gross stands at $40.1 million)
Dolphin Tale 2 — $9 million (Total gross stands at $27 million)