Maze Runner (2oth Century Fox), based on the YA best-seller of the same title by author James Dashner, ran over its competition at the box office its debut weekend to take the #1 spot. The film grossed #2.5 million in North America while A Walk Among Tombstones (Universal Pictures), starring Liam Neeson, took a distant second place. It only grossed $13.1 million.
Maze Runner, like several other YA movies and books, follows the formula of young adults who find themselves caught up in nightmarish life-and-death situations. Teenage boys in a glade find themselves in a mysterious maze and they must discover where the exit is in order to stay alive. Maze Runner stars Dylan O’Brien as Thomas, who learns that they are trapped in a maze. Then, Thomas, along with fellow “Runners,” tries to escape.
Though Maze Runner did not have the types of huge debuts other dystopian YA movies have had, such as The Hunger Games and Divergent, according to Rentrak senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian, having a domestic opening of $32.5 million “in September is actually really good.” Worldwide, Maze Runner has taken in $80 million.
Fox plans to start up a Maze Runner franchise. They already have a sequel in the works which will be called The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials. Paul Dergarabedian stated that Fox’s plans to turn Maze Runner into a franchise is a smart one, declaring that “Their gamble paid off.”
Though Maze Runner fell short of the $37 million it had been projected to gross, its budget was just $34 million, so with the $32.5 million it brought in this weekend, it has already practically paid for the cost it took to produce it. The Fox studio had been more cautious about its estimates of how much Maze Runner would earn, putting the estimate between $20 to $20 million. The Wes Ball-directed movie has also gotten several favorable critical reviews.
A Walk Among the Tombstones is based upon the late Lawrence Block’s series of Matt Scudder mystery novels. According to Box Office Mojo, it only cost $28 million to produce, so it will likely at least break even within a couple more weeks.
Generally, Liam Neeson movies do much better in their debut weekends, but for some reason, A Walk Among the Tombstones did not attract huge audiences to movie theaters for its debut. The R rating it received might have kept some people away from seeing the flick. 77 percent of its audiences was 25 or older.
Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson) used to be a New York Police Department officer. In the movie, Neeson’s character, Matt Scudder, aids a heroin dealer (Dan Stevens) in finding the people who kidnapped and killed his wife and in taking revenge upon them. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times calls the film “intelligent pulp.” Scott Frank (Get Shorty and Minority Report) wrote the screenplay and directed the movie.
In third place at the box office, also making its debut this weekend, was the comedy from Warner Brothers This is Where I Leave You. Starring Tina Fey and Jason Batemen, the movie is about four siblings who return home upon the death of their father. Two other actresses who star in the film are Rose Byrnes and Jane Fonda.
This is Where I Leave You was projected to earn in the $20 million dollar range, but it, like other movies this weekend, fell short of expectations and only brought in $11.7 to $11.9 million. The film was based on the bestselling novel by Jonathan Tropper. Directed by Shawn Levy,Box Office Mojo estimated that it cost $20 million to make the film.
Falling to fourth place in its second weekend out at the box office was the thriller from Sony, No Good Deed. Starring Idris Elba and directed by Sam Miller, the film managed to take in an estimated $10.2 million. That brought the film’s total North American gross to $40.1 million.
Compared to the same weekend last year, box office sales were up 30 percent for the top 10 movies. However, the box office total gross for the year, in comparison to last year, is down 5.5 percent. Still, all in all, this weekend was pretty good at the box office for this time of the year.
Dolphin Tale 2 (Warner Brothers), also in its second weekend, grossed approximately $8.8 million to $9 million. That raised its total North American gross to $27.1 million. Last week, Dolphin Tale 2 was number two at the box office. It fell in its take by 43.3 percent. The first Dolphin Tale movie only fell a bit less than 30 percent from its debut weekend to the second one, so the sequel does not seem to be doing as well as the first one.
Guardians of the Galaxy fell to sixth place at the box office. It did not take in very much money in comparison to its debut weekend when it grossed around $92 million, but it still managed to zoom past Iron Man 2 and bring it closer to beating out the original Iron Man film to become the highest-grossing Marvel franchise-starting flick ever, according to Comicbook.com.
With Maze Runner the new #1 movie at the box office, running over its competition and grossing over $30 million and with many other movies in the Top Ten earning $10 million or better, the box office did better this weekend than it has for the least few weekends. Though there were no huge blockbuster flicks debuting this weekend at the box office, the take of the Top Ten was at least better than the same comparable weekend last year.
Written By Douglas Cobb