The Martian

The Martian is Back on Top as October Blahs Hit the Box Office

The Martian returned to the top spot at the box office despite the release of four new movies, all of which bombed.

The Martian returned to the top spot at the box office despite the release of four new movies, all of which bombed

If the last couple of weekends were bad, then this weekend was officially the worst as four new movies opened in wide release and another acclaimed festival hit expanded nationwide, and none of them grossed more than $11 million over the weekend. Two of them made less than $2 million despite wide releases. Ouch!

Instead, it was another weekend for the returning movies to continue bringing in business as Ridley Scott’s The Martian, starring Matt Damon, returned to the #1 spot at the box office with $15.9 million, down just 25% from its previous weekend, despite the influx of new and expanding films. While it’s not unheard of for a movie to top the box office during the slower months, it’s even more impressive for a science fiction film that opened during such a busy month. So far, The Martian has grossed $166 million in its first four weeks and is slowly creeping up into the Top 10 movies of the year.  By comparison, Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, which opened just a million ahead of The Martian, was on the verge of hitting $200 million during the same timeframe two years ago.

Sony Pictures‘ adaptation of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps, starring Jack Black, dropped to second place with an estimated $15.5 million this weekend, down just 35% from its opening weekend, with a domestic gross of $43.7 million so far. It will be interesting to see how it fares over Halloween weekend next week, because family films tend to be hurt by the “trick or treat”  tradition.

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks’ spy thriller Bridge of Spies (DreamWorks) also had an impressive hold in its second weekend, retaining third place with $11.4 million, off just 26% from its opening weekend. It has racked up $32.6 million domestically since opening ten days ago.

That brings us to the new movies, and we actually had a couple of original non-sequels/non-remakes in the mix as well, but originality did no favors for Vin Diesel’s action-fantasy The Last Witch Hunter (Lionsgate), co-starring Elijah Wood, Rose Leslie and Michael Caine, which did the best of the new movies despite opening in fourth place with an estimated $10.8 million in 3,082 theaters, or $3,512 per theater. The people who did go to see Vin play a witch hunter didn’t care for the movie much, giving it a lousy “B-” CinemaScore.

Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation’s animated hit Hotel Transylvania 2 took fifth place with $9 million, also down a minimal 29% from its previous weekend, with a total domestic gross of $148.3 million in five weeks. So far, it is Sony’s highest-grossing movie of the year.

Advertised as the finale in the hit horror franchise, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension was released by Paramount into just 1,656 AMC and Cineplex theaters (including 3D screens) where it grossed an estimated $8.2 million, or $4,952 per theater – the best per-theater average in the Top 10.  Its “C” CinemaScore doesn’t bode well for the movie’s legs, though. It fared much better overseas where it grossed $18 million in 33 territories, more than covering the movie’s $10 million production budget.

Universal Pictures‘ Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels, expanded nationwide into 2,493 theaters but failed to continue the film’s success in limited release with a seventh place showing of just $7.3 million (or $2,916 per theater), only slightly better than the $6.7 million Ashton Kutcher’s Jobs opened with back in 2013. Its “A-” CinemaScore is a little more promising, as is its potential for awards attention, but that’s way below all predictions and projections for the movie going into the weekend (where it was thought to be this weekend’s #1) after grossing $2.7 million in less than 60 theaters. 

Guillermo del Toro’s gothic horror film Crimson Peak (Universal), starring Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Charlie Hunnam, took a nasty plunge in its second weekend, tumbling 58% to eighth place with $5.5 million and $22.4 million so far. (I guess that’s what happens when your marketing sells something as a horror movie that really isn’t.) It’s done slightly better overseas where it has grossed $26 million in 62 territories.

The Nancy Meyers comedy The Intern, starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, took ninth place with $3.9 million and a gross of $64.7 million, surpassing Johnny Depp’s Black Mass, which was thought to be Warner Bros.’ big fall hit but quickly sputtered out, as did Pan, which dropped out of the Top 10 after two weekends.

The Lionsgate crime thriller Sicario added another $3 million this weekend to close off the Top 10 with $39.4 million grossed so far.

The Top 10 grossed an estimated $90 million, which as expected, is down from the same weekend last year when new movies Ouija and John Wick topped the box office with $20 million and $15 million, respectively.

There were a couple even bigger bombs this weekend (and probably two of the biggest of the year) as Bill Murray’s political comedy Rock the Kasbah (Open Road Films), directed by Oscar winner Barry Levinson, tanked with just $1.5 million in 2,012 theaters, or $750 per theater. It also received a similar “B-” CinemaScore as Vin Diesel’s action movie, which doesn’t bode well for word-of-mouth business.

Universal Pictures’ take on the ’80s cartoon Jem and the Holograms, produced along with Blumhouse Productions, Hasbro’s Allspark Pictures and Justin Bieber manager Scooter Braun, opened in 2,413 theaters on Friday (with previews Thursday night) and quickly became one of the biggest bombs for Universal, as well as the worst opening for a movie in over 2,400 theaters, with an opening of $1.3 million, or around $539 per theater. Yikes! With terrible reviews, its “B+” CinemaScore probably won’t help much although it did score the second-best rating from audiences after Steve Jobs.

In limited release, Focus Features‘ period drama Suffragette, starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep, opened in four locations in New York and L.A. where it grossed $77,000, or $19,250 per theater, which isn’t great, although one expects it will continue to expand over the next few weeks regardless.

Meanwhile in China, Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man added another $22 million to its 10-day China gross of $81.9 million, greatly adding to the movie’s $315 million overseas gross. Warner Bros.’ Pan opened outside the Top 5 in China with just $2.9 million this weekend.


Marvel and DC