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Weekend Box Office: Scorch Trials Buries Black Mass While Everest Scores on IMAX

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By Chris Kavan - 09/20/15 at 09:36 PM CT

It was an upward trend this weekend compared to last year - but the biggest news wasn't necessarily who came out on top, but the impressive debut of a couple of limited-release films. It bodes well for the coming weeks as awards season ramps up to full speed before transitioning into some huge winter titles. As for this weekend, it was the YA sequel that topped Johnny Depp's welcome return to form. I expect dramas are going to be the these next few weekends but, for now, the younger generation can enjoy the win.

1) MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS

Following in the footsteps of Divergent, the Maze Runner sequel premiered in first, but slightly lower than the first film. Scorch Trials brought in $30.3 million compared to the $32.5 million the first film opened with. It also scored a slightly lower Cinemascore - "B+" - on step below the "A-" of the first film. As I said, it opened much like the Divergent sequel, Insurgent, which opened $2.4 million lower than the original film. Worldwide, Scorch Trials has already topped $100 million. Though it's budget is significantly higher than the original film ($61 million compared to $34), it will have no problem winding up with nearly $100 million domestically and will probably top $300 million worldwide. The last film (unless some prequels emerge, which wouldn't be a surprise) is already scheduled for 2017 and I have no doubt that film will also wind up on the positive side of its budget as well.

2) BLACK MASS

Billed as Johnny Depp's big return to form after quite a few misfires as the box office, Black Mass delivered a worthy $23.3 opening in the second place spot. While the premier may seem a bit low, one has to remember Black Mass has a much more modest budget ($53 million) compared to, say, The Lone Ranger and will wind up making a bit of money. By comparision, it opened in the same range as The Town ($23.8 million) and just below The Departed ($26.8 million). The only concern is the rather tepid "B" Cinemascore and the fact is drew a mostly male (56%) and older (89% over 25), not exactly the kind of audience who is willing to give this one many legs. Even if the film takes a steep dive in the coming weeks (and it very well could with the many adult-oriented dramas on the horizon) it is still the fifth-best opening for Depp and a much-needed boost for the actor. It may not translate to awards, but it should finally help him go beyond Tim Burton and the Pirates franchise.

3) THE VISIT

M. Night Shyamalan’s return (much like Mr. Depp above) continued a pretty good run, dipping 55.4% (actually pretty good for a horror film) and landed one spot down in third place with $11.35 million. The Visit sits at $42.34 million and should cross the $50 million mark in a week (or two at the most). Once again, it had a significant jump from Friday to Saturday, suggesting it's actually drawing in families, strange as that might sound. The Visit is looking to earn ten times its budget at least by this time next week and, any way you look at it, is a big hit. I have to say, it's nice to see a win for Shyamalan, I had pretty much given up hope after the trainwreck that was The Last Airbender and After Earth, but I think second chances are pretty much a given when it comes to entertainment and it looks like this time it's also deserved.

4) THE PERFECT GUY

Last week's top film may have been the darling of the ball, but this week it had to deal with a pretty harsh 63% drop - all the way from first to fourth place. Despite having a good reception with audiences, it only brought in $9.64 million and has actually fallen behind The Visit, with a $41.35 million total. Still, like The Visit, The Perfect Guy had a modest $12 million budget and a four-times modifier is going to look nice on the books as Perfect Guy is also likely to hit $50 million in the next week or two as well. It might not have the legs it looked like opening, but it will wind up a winner and should find more life once it comes out for home viewing.

5) EVEREST

How can you outshine the top movie of the weekend? Everest only opened on 545 theaters - all IMAX screens - and brought in $7.5 million. That more than doubled the previous September IMAX record held by The Equalizer ($3.1 million). That led to a fantastic $13,872-per-theater average - the best out of any film in the top 12 (though not the best out of new releases - more on that below). It will be interesting to see whether this opening leads to the same success when it adds more theaters next weekend, but for now the eye-opening $55 million picture can count this as an early win. The film also brought in $28.2 million on the international front, which was also enough to push Universal Pictures over the $4 billion mark for the year ($6.3 billion with domestic and foreign totals taken into account).

Outside the top five: The biggest news had to belong to Sicario, the anticipated crime drama hit just six theaters but brought in $390,000 for a $65,000-per-theater average - not just the best of the weekend but the best per-theaters average of 2015 and the second-best total for any film from Lionsgate. I will have my write-up on the film next week as it continues to expand (it will go wide on October 2) but if the early results hold, this could be one of the biggest films of the fall.

The week's other wide release, Captive, barely made any waves, bringing in $1.4 million and opening outside the top 10 in 11th place. It was barely screened and had little marketing from Paramount, who likely wanted to bury this as quietly as possible. If that was the case, job done as Captive will likely leave theaters as quickly as it opened.

Ant-Man managed to cross the $400 million mark worldwide - $401.3 million and counting - which the big fish of China still in its future. It is all but guaranteed to surpass the $441 million total of Thor and should approach the $585 total of Iron Man. Once again, the little hero makes big and continues to bode well for the future of the Marvel franchise.

Next week, besides the expansion of Sicario, we have the horror film The Green Inferno, the animated Hotel Transylvania 2 and the Nancy Meyers' comedy The Intern. We'll see if Sicario can continue its stunning run and if any of the newcomers can dethrone Scorch Trials for the top spot.

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