FINAL UPDATE, Monday, 2:12 PM: The fall season is off to a good start, thanks to Fox’s The Maze Runner which opened nicely to $32.5M for the three-day weekend. The next installment of the film, The Maze Runner 2: Scorch Trials, is already set to bow September 18, 2015. While Fox has created another franchise for the industry, Liam Neeson and Universal weren’t so lucky with A Walk Among The Tombstones. The picture didn’t appeal to the female audience — that same demo which helped Non-Stop open to $28.8M earlier this year for the actor. Tombstones ends this weekend with $12.7M. This Is Where I Leave You opened to mediocre numbers after having a less than expected Sunday. It will take in only $11.5M for Warner Bros.

TheEqualizerSpeaking of franchises, Sony and Denzel Washington hope to launch one next weekend with The Equalizer and those of us who have seen it believe it will happen. The film paints Washington as a superhero, as unstoppable as The Terminator — but for all the right reasons as a man obsessed with breaking the back of evil.

Boxtrolls First Official TrailerAlso opening next weekend is the stop-motion, 3-D animated film The Boxtrolls from Focus Features which is surely to push aside Dolphin Tale 2 to give families something creatively silly and fun to see. Hector And The Search For Happiness expands next weekend. This sweet picture stars Rosamund Pike and Simon Pegg; interesting in that Pike’s What We Did On Our Holiday (with Billy Connolly and David Tennant) debuts this coming weekend as well in the UK and Ireland. Lastly, in moderate release, will be Mas Negro Que La Noche from Lionsgate’s Pantelion Films.

Here’s the Top 20 chart:

1). The Maze Runner (FOX), 3,064 theaters / 3-day est. cume: $32.5M / Per screen average: $9,021 / Wk 1

2). A Walk Among The Tombstones (UNI), 2,712 theaters / 3-day cume: $12.7M / Per screen: $4,705 / Wk 1

3). This Is Where I Leave You (WB), 2,868 theaters / 3-day cume: $11.5M / Per screen: $4,030 / Wk 1

4). No Good Deed (SONY), 2,175 theaters (0) / 3-day cume: $9.7M (-60%) / Per screen: $4,503 / Total cume: $39.7M / Wk 2

5). Dolphin Tale 2 (WB), 3,656 theaters (0) / 3-day cume: $8.8M (-44%) / Per screen: $2,426 / Total cume: $26.9M / Wk 2

6). Guardians Of The Galaxy (DIS), 2,846 theaters (-258) / 3-day cume: $5.2M / Per screen: $1,842 / Total cume: $313.7M / Wk 8

7). Let’s Be Cops (FOX), 2,312 theaters (-443) / 3-day cume: $2.7M / Per screen average: $1,170 / Total cume: $77.2M / Wk 6

8). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (PAR), 2,348 theaters (-609) / 3-day cume: $2.6M / Per screen: $1,129 / Total cume: $185M / Wk 7

9). The Drop (FSL), 1,192 theaters (+383) / 3-day cume: $2M (-50%) / Per screen: $1,737 / Total cume: $7.7M / Wk 2

10). If I Stay (WB), 2,371 theaters (-669) / 3-day cume: $1.8M / Per screen: $777 / Total cume: $47.6M / Wk 5

11). The Hundred-Foot Journey (DIS), 1,253 theaters (-690) / 3-day cume: $1.1M / Per screen: $913 / Total cume: $51.4M / Wk 7

12). When The Game Stands Tall (SONY), 1,702 theaters (-733) / 3-day cume: $1M / Per screen: $636 / Total cume: $28.3M / Wk 5

13). The Giver (TWC), 1,607 theaters (-646) / 3-day cume: $965K / Per screen: $601 / Total cume: $43M / Wk 6

14). Tusk (A24), 602 theaters / 3-day cume: $846K / Per screen: $1,407 / Wk 1

15). Lucy (UNI), 788 theaters (-280) / 3-day cume: $736K / Per screen: $935 / Total cume: $124.8M / Wk 9

16). The November Man (REL), 1,478 theaters (-1,224) / 3-day cume: $701K / Per screen: $475 / Total cume: $24.3M / Wk 4

17). Dr. Cabbie (EOne), 55 theaters / 3-day cume: $694K / Per screen: $12,620 / Wk 1

18). As Above, So Below (UNI), 1,070 theaters (-1,213) / 3-day cume: $684K / Per screen: $640 / Total cume: $20.5M / Wk 4

19). My Old Lady (CMG), 170 theaters (+159) / 3-day cume: $483K / Per screen: $2,845 / Total cume: $681K / Wk 2

20). The Skeleton Twins (Roadside), 49 theaters (+34) / 3-day cume: $432K / Per screen: $8,817 / Total cume: $937K / Wk 2

3rd UPDATE, Sunday, 7:53 AM: First of all, another milestone for Disney/Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy. After only eight weeks in release, this audience favorite has just passed the lifetime cume of Iron Man 2 both internationally ($311.5M) and domestically ($312.4M). And Guardians is still playing, making another $5.1M this weekend. Overall, the 2014 box office so far is down 5.5 percent compared to the same period in 2013, but that is still better than it had been in previous weeks.

So … three movies debuted this weekend, all based on books. The YA adaptation The Maze Runner outpaced all others with an estimated $32.5M or a smidgen more, falling just short of the Top Five for all-time September openers. If that number holds, it will be sixth, just under Rush Hourwhich opened in 1998 with $33M. But after this weekend, with a budget of $35M+, minus the tax break that brought its budget down, it is poised to take in an estimated $37.6M from 50 markets internationally.

It opened overseas last weekend, so its worldwide cume to date after today’s moviegoing should be $81.5M. And it hasn’t even opened in big markets like China and the U.K. yet. The next installment of the film, The Maze Runner 2: Scorch Trials, is already set to bow Sept. 18, 2015.  (See the concept art tweeted today by the books’ author, James Dashner, below)

The Scorch Trials concept artGotta give props to the film’s star Dylan O’Brien, who did a nice job executing the role and led a very good ensemble cast of young actors. I understand he worked his fanny off promoting this film, too.

Fox expected high $20Ms to low $30Ms for the weekend and they were right on the money, though NRG said it was going to gross more than $40M. This picture’s gross was bolstered by 351 IMAX screens and it also had 361 PLF screens this weekend, which together pulled in about $7M — or 21.5% of the total weekend take. IMAX was responsible for $3.3M or 10% of the total and became the highest percentage the company has ever tallied for a YA title. Bodes will for the sequel.

“We took a shot and they said internally all along that we were trying to do something we’ve never done before,” said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution for Fox. “Our target audience is in school and weren’t available for the matinees but they came out on Friday night and then to be up 19% on Saturday was phenomenal.”

The picture’s audience-goers were balanced on gender and demos across the board and received a strong A- CinemaScore. wes-ball---wi05-14_FotorThe studio opened this picture in September, kind of an out-of-the-box thing to do with a YA title, but the date worked, so kudos to the distribution guys, too. And finally, a big congrats to first-time helmer Wes Ball on this Gotham Group/Temple Hill production. He brought this Lord Of The Flies (with a twist of sci-fi) tale to light, made the money shots with CGI, and also pleased the studio, which wanted more of a Hunger Games franchise. Well, they got themselves a nice franchise and the studio has to be happy for its strong international bow. The Maze Runner provides the studio a template for how to effectively market a late-September release to the YA audience for its sequel next year. So tweak away.

tombstonesUnfortunately for Liam Neeson and Universal, the hoped-for franchise A Walk Among The Tombstones, born out of Lawrence Block’s 1992 novel, is not to be. Audiences didn’t take to this violent tale (the grisly nature of the story lost its female audience) and, perhaps, because audiences have seen Neeson as action star one too many times. Everything starts to look alike after a while: The Grey, Taken, Non-Stop … you get the drift. This one looks like it will take in around $12.8M for the three-day, after various tracking companies expected high teens.

Again, movie tracking, which studios pay millions of dollars for, is no damn good. It’s very misleading for all involved. For this very hard R movie, 77% of the audience members were over the age of 25 … so hopefully, this Cross Creek production will find some life in home entertainment with the older males who love their couches. The females shunned the film’s bloody, grisly nature. Note to filmmaker Scott Frank: Less brutality.

RELATED: Movie Marketing Tracking In the Toilet: Fix or Flush?

this-is-where-i-leave-you-trailerThe weekend’s third debut based on a novel — the adaptation of Jonathan Tropper’s 2009 This Is Where I Leave You — should come in around $11.7M after Sunday. The Warner Bros.-distributed story of a dysfunctional family looked to open soft and it did. The R-rated comedy was playing best with older women despite a cast that should have pushed the demo a tad younger, including Adam Driver and Jason Bateman.

In its second frame, Sony’s suspense thriller No Good Deed is expected to drop 58%, bringing  in $9.9M to $10.1M. That would put its cume around $40M. Dolphin Tale 2 from Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. should take in around $8.8M this weekend, its last hope to make any money before the animated stop-motion The Boxtrolls arrives from Focus Features next weekend. To date, the family-oriented Dolphin has only made around $27M, but could do some significant business in home entertainment, as family films always do. Boxtrolls is doing nicely overseas, grabbing $11M prior to its domestic bow. The Drop, the last film release of the late star James Gandolfini, added screens but still fell 50% and should take in $2M for the weekend to bring its total cume to $7.6M.

Here’s the Top Ten weekend chart and thanks so much to Amanda N’Duka for helping crunch our numbers. For other limited and art house releases, see my colleague Brian Brooks’ specialty box office story:

1). The Maze Runner (FOX), 3,064 theaters / $11.3M Fri. (includes $1.1M late nights) / $13.4M Sat. +19%) / $8M Sun. (-40%) / 3-day est. cume: $32.5M+ / Wk 1

2). A Walk Among the Tombstones (UNI), 2,712 theaters / $4.7M Fri. (includes $428K in late nights) / $5M Sat. (+7%) / $3M Sun. (-40%) / 3-day cume: $12.8M / Wk 1

3). This is Where I Leave You (WB), 2,868 theaters / $3.85M Fri. (includes est. $100K in late nights) / $4.9M Sat. (28%) / $2.9M Sun. (-40%) / 3-day cume: $11.7M / Wk 1

4). No Good Deed (SONY), 2,175 theaters (0) / $2.9M Fri. / $4.6M Sat. (57%) / $2.6M Sun. (-43%) / 3-day cume: $9.9M to $10.1M (-58%) / Total cume: $40M / Wk 2

5). Dolphin Tale 2 (WB), 3,656 theaters (0) / $2.1M Fri. / $4.2M Sat. (+50%) / $2.5M Sun (-40%) / 3-day cume: $8.8M (-44%) / Total cume: $27M / Wk 2

6). Guardians of the Galaxy (DIS), 2,846 theaters (-258) / $1.38M Fri. / $2.47M Sat. (+80%) / $1.32M Sun. (-46%) / 3-day cume: $5.18M / Total cume: $313.6M / Wk 8

7). Let’s Be Cops (FOX), 2,312 theaters (-443) / $770K Fri. / $1.2M Sat. (63%) / $671K Sun. (-45%) / 3-day cume: $2.6M / Total cume: $77.1M / Wk 6

8). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (PAR), 2,348 theaters (-609) / $626K Fri. / $1.26M Sat. (+49%) / 756K Sun. (-40%) / 3-day cume: $2.6M / Total cume: $185M / Wk 7

9). The Drop (FSL), 1,192 theaters (+383) / $645K Fri. / $930K Sat. (+44%) / $465K Sun. (-50%) / 3-day cume: $2M (-50%) / Per screen average: $1,677 / Total cume: $7.6M / Wk 2

10). If I Stay (WB), 2,371 theaters (-669) / $538K Fri. / $856K Sat. (+62) / $428K Sun. (-50%) / 3-day cume: $1.8M / Total cume: $47.6M / Wk 5

2nd UPDATE, Saturday, 11:20 PM: Fox’s The Maze Runner ended up on the high end of this morning’s estimate and after its core audience came out on Saturday night to give the sci-fi actioner around a 20% boost, it will likely run in with $32.5M to $33M+. Maze Runner opened last weekend overseas to very strong numbers; grosses from 48 more international markets will be reported tomorrow.

The adaptation of the YA novel by James Dashner tracked better with males than Divergent did, but it still garnered interest from young females. Probably because of Dylan O’Brien (of MTV’s Teen Wolf). Although the first two acts of Maze Runner were exciting, the third act was confusing. However, filmmakers set this one up for a sequel and, in fact, the next installment is already in pre-production. Good thing this one opened.

A Walk Among the Tombstones is showing some Liam Neeson fatigue. Estimates for the violent actioner’s three-day gross is now $13M+. The filmmakers lost the female demo that propped up Non-Stop last time around and was tracking best with older males … did I say older? I meant old, as in ‘what did you do in the war Daddy?’ Based on the best-selling mystery novel by Lawrence Block, Tombstones follows an ex-cop turned private investigator who is hired by a drug lord to find out who murdered his wife. Maybe it will get a boost from international audiences because domestic audiences have spoken. Universal is only distributing domestically on this one.

This is Where I Leave You is still expected in around $11.7M for the weekend. The R-rated ensemble comedy opened soft as predicted, appealing mainly to older females … older, as in the ones who remember co-star Jane Fonda‘s workout videos. In the No. 4 spot is No Good Deed which is falling off about 53% in its second weekend. The suspense thriller, which stars female fav Idris Elba, should gross around $10.1M. Rounding out the Top Five is the second weekend of Dolphin Tale 2, which had a nice Saturday percentage increase of around 95% from its family audiences to bring its three-day gross total to $9M or a little less.

More to come in the morning when the dust clears. Until then …

1st UPDATE, Saturday 7:30 AM: This morning, The Maze Runner is right in line with our estimates last night, given that we think today will be a strong moviegoing time for this YA offering from Fox. While it looked much softer in matinees yesterday, we held off reporting because we knew that the audience for this picture was going to come out in the evening and late night showings. They did. If this gains tonight by around 10%, Fox will see the weekend end at $30M to $32M (as it looks now). It grossed about $11.3M yesterday. Between a strong Friday, its A- CinemaScore (which should give it a 3.5M multiple) and its international performance, it should give Fox yet another profitable film from the YA genre. themazerunnerx13Pretty darn good for a picture whose star is Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf), but props to Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Ki Hong Lee, too. Kudos to The Gotham Group, Temple Hill and first time director Wes Ball.

Liam Neeson’s blood-soaked actioner A Walk Among the Tombstones performed much lower than the tracking showed for Universal — not surprising as so did Maze Runner — so let’s look at this opening, compared to its budget:

Tombstones was made for about $27M and received some tax incentives which brought the budget down to more like $23M. It should end the weekend with only $14M+ and a B- CinemaScore (which usually translates to around a 2.7 multiple) so this could end up around $38M domestically. Not great when you figure in added marketing and distribution costs as well as the split with the exhibitors. Liam Neeson’s last outing, Non-Stop made $110M overseas after an $28.8M opening weekend domestically. This one is on track to make less than his 2012 film The Grey which opened to $19M domestically and took in a lifetime gross of $51M; it only made $25M overseas. It also had a disappointing B-. So A Walk Among the Tombstones is going to have to do wonderful business overseas and in home entertainment. Given that it is playing best with older males, a home entertainment bump is likely.

this-is-where-i-leave-you-jane-fonda-tina-feyThis is Where I Leave You is coming in right about at the expectation we had on Thursday — we figured around $12M and it looks like it will come in at $11.7M to $11.9M. We were told that the budget for this R-rated ensemble that stars Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver and Jane Fonda was around $19M+ so, once again, it’s going to have to make more than $40M all in to find a profit if that budget number from the studio is even accurate. With a B+ CinemaScore, it could translate into an average 3.2 multiple which would bring it to around $37.8M domestically.

In their second weekends, No Good Deed is expected to drop about 60% to bring in around $9.6M to $10M+ while Dolphin Tale 2 is expected to get a nice bump from family audiences today and end the weekend down around 48%. Both pictures held their screens. Total cumes after this weekend should be around $40M for Deed and $26.3M for Dolphin Tale which is expected to take the No. 5 spot this weekend. The Drop, which added 383 screens in its second frame weekend as it is in a platform release, is still going to lose ground and should only end up with a $2M weekend to drop 49%. Its cume to date will be around $7.7M.

Thanks to our intern Amanda N’Duka for helping me again this weekend with all the number crunching. Here’s the chart:

1). The Maze Runner (FOX), 3,064 theaters / $11.3M Fri. (includes $1.1M late nights) / 3-day est. cume: $30M to $32M / Wk 1

2). A Walk Among the Tombstones (UNI), 2,712 theaters / $4.75M Fri. (includes $428K in late nights) / 3-day cume: $14M+ / Wk 1

3). This is Where I Leave You (WB), 2,868 theaters / $3.85M Fri. (includes est. $100K in late nights) / 3-day cume: $11.7M to $11.9M / Wk 1

4). No Good Deed (SONY), 2,175 theaters (0) / $2.95M Fri. / 3-day cume: $9.6M to $10M+ (-60%) / Total cume: $39M to $40M / Wk 2

5). Dolphin Tale 2 (WB), 3,656 theaters (0) / $2.1M Fri. / 3-day cume: $8.7M (-48%) / Total cume: $26.3M / Wk 2

6). Guardians of the Galaxy (DIS), 2,846 theaters (-258) / $1.37M Fri. / 3-day cume: $5.3M / Total cume: $313.7M / Wk 8

7/8). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (PAR), 2,348 theaters (-609) / $627K Friday / 3-day cume: $2.55M / Total cume: $185M / Wk 7

Let’s Be Cops (FOX), 2,312 theaters (-443) / $760K Fri. / 3-day cume: $2.5M / Total cume: $77.1M / Wk 6

9). The Drop (FSL), 1,192 theaters (+383) / $645K Fri. / 3-day cume: $2M (-49%) / Per screen average: $1,677 / Total cume: $7.7M / Wk 2

10). If I Stay (WB), 2,371 theaters (-669) / $538K Fri. / 3-day cume: $1.8M / Total cume: $47.6M / Wk 5

NOTEWORTHY: 11). Aagadu (NR/INDB), 125 theaters / $399K Fri. / 3-day cume: $1.29M / Per screen average: $10,342 / Total cume: $1.6M to $1.9M / Wk 1

Tusk (A24), 602 theaters / $375K Fri. / 3-day cume: $1M / Per screen average: $1,685 / Wk 1

PREVIOUSLY, Friday 11:13 PM: After soft matinees today, the sci-fi action thriller The Maze Runner took off this evening and is expected to chase in an estimated $11M today (that includes the $1.1M from last night) for a three-day weekend gross of around $30M to $32M. Saturday should be another decent moviegoing night for this YA picture which stars MTV’s Teen Wolf star Dylan O’Brien. It also got an A- CinemaScore from its core audience which should give a nice multiple.

MazeRunner_trailer_FotorWith a budget of around $34M+ (it actually looks like more on screen thanks to the CGI done in Vancouver by Method Studios), this one is doing quite well for Fox. It bowed strong last weekend in international markets, besting fellow YA sci-fi actioner Divergent in the territories it opened in, such as Mexico. It is currently rolling out to 48 other territories. Today’s gross puts it ahead of last year’s Ender’s Game which had a first day take of $9.8M and went onto gross $27M for the weekend. Fox distribution execs had the estimated gross for Maze Runner pegged early on, despite faulty tracking numbers leading into the weekend.

Liam Neeson’s A Walk Among the Tombstones is expected to open under his 2012 turn in The Grey which took in $6.4M its first day for a $19.6M haul in 2012. That was the comp we were looking at for Tombstones. However, this bloody crime drama — it’s a hard R — doesn’t seem to be bringing in the ladies this time around the way Non-Stop did for Neeson earlier this year. We expect the Universal picture to have $4.75M today and only a $13.9M to $14M take for the three-day. That was well under the tracking that had it at $19M going into the weekend. The budget on this grisly film was $23M. It received a B- CinemaScore.

leave youThis is Where We Come In third. Didn’t we see this movie already (Home for the Holidays)? The Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Adam Driver-starring R-rated comedy This is Where I Leave You will stay put this weekend in the No. 3 spot for a Friday take of around $4M. It’s three-day weekend of about what we figured, $11.7M on a $19M+ budget. The Warner Bros.’ film has been tracking the best with older females. It got a B+ CinemaScore from its core audience which means it could do a 3 multiple.

The Idris Elba, Taraji P. Henson suspense thriller No Good Deed looks to drop a big 58% in its second frame on the same number of runs for a weekend total of anywhere between $9.5M to $10M; it’s total cume is around $39M to $40M. It should take the No. 4 spot. The second weekend of the family film, Dolphin Tale 2 from Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. is holding steady, expected down about 50% on the same number of theaters for a three-day cume of $8.2M to $8.5M and total to date of $26.3M.

Despite adding 383 theaters, The Drop is not expected to do much business this weekend and will be down about 50% to take in about $2M for Fox Searchlight.

Here’s the chart. This is where I leave you. More in the AM:

1). The Maze Runner (FOX), 3,064 theaters / $11M to $11.5M Fri. (includes $1.1M late nights) / 3-day est. cume: $30M to $32M / Wk 1

2). A Walk Among the Tombstones (UNI), 2,712 theaters / $4.75M Fri. (includes $428K in late nights) / 3-day cume: $13.9M to $14M / Wk 1

3). This is Where I Leave You (WB), 2,868 theaters / $4M Fri. (includes est. $100K in late nights) / 3-day cume: $11.7M / Wk 1

4). No Good Deed (SONY), 2,175 theaters (0) / $2.8M to $3M Fri. / 3-day cume: $9.5M to $10M (-60%) / Total cume: $39M to $40M / Wk 2

5). Dolphin Tale 2 (WB), 3,656 theaters (0) / $2.1M Fri. / 3-day cume: $8.2M to $8.5M (-48%) / Total cume: $26.3M / Wk 2

6). Guardians of the Galaxy (DIS), 2,846 theaters (-258) / $1.39M Fri. / 3-day cume: $5.3M / Total cume: $313.9M / Wk 8

7/8). Let’s Be Cops (FOX), 2,312 theaters (-443) / $750K Fri. / 3-day cume: $2.5M / Total cume: $77M / Wk 6

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (PAR), 2,348 theaters (-609) / $650K Friday / 3-day cume: $2.75M / Total cume: $185M / Wk 7

9). The Drop (FSL), 1,192 theaters (+383) / $675K Fri. / 3-day cume: $2.M (-50%) / Total cume: $7.7M / Wk 2

10). If I Stay (WB), 2,371 theaters (-669) / $550K Fri. / 3-day cume: $1.85M / Total cume: $48M / Wk 5

NOTEWORTHY: 17). Tusk (A24), 602 theaters / $250K Fri. / 3-day cume: $676K / Per screen average: $1,123 / Wk 1