The CBS FM radio slogan in New York City appropriately describes the upcoming weekend at the box office: “And the hits just keep on coming.”
20th Century Fox is opening Ridley Scott’s The Martian which is expected to beam up a FSS in the low $40Ms at 3,286 theaters, returning the director in full form to the genre that has been his bread and butter over time with Alien, Blade Runner and Prometheus. The Martian arrives at a great time for Scott like a glass of water on Mars as the director has suffered at the domestic B.O. over his last two titles, the complex noir The Counselor ($17M) and the ambitious Moses epic Exodus: Gods And Kings ($65M).
The buzz for The Martian has been at a cosmic-boom level coming out of the Toronto Film Festival. The Rotten Tomatoes score is at 93%. The film follows Matt Damon as a NASA astronaut fighting for his survival on the Red Planet after being stranded by his crew following a brutal storm. When it comes to launching top-grossing awards season fare, the first weekend in October is the place: Gravity opened during this period in 2013 and posted the month’s highest opening ($55.8M, $274.1M domestic B.O.). Last year at this time, Fox had Gone Girl ($37.5M opening) and Sony opened The Social Network in 2010 ($22.4M, $97M cume).
The Martian‘s opening comes on the heels of Mars nabbing headlines in the news after water was discovered on its planetary surface. Similar to how Gravity appealed to science class students as well as mainstreet moviegoers, the pic s expected to appeal to a wide four-quadrant demo. Thursday previews start at 8 PM. Venues include premium large-format screens with two-thirds of the theater count being in 3D. The Martian was originally slotted to go out at Thanksgiving, but Fox moved it to this coming weekend back in June.
In its second weekend, Sony’s Hotel Transylvania 2 is looking at a 40%-45% soft tumble from its record September opening of $48.5M. The first film fell 36% in its second session, making $27.1M and the sequel per industry projections should land between $29M-$31.5M. Warner Bros.’ Nancy Meyers comedy The Intern is looking at projected 50% decline per industry estimates for a second FSS of $8.9M.
Expanding into an estimated 2,500 theaters after a slow rollout over the last two weekends is Lionsgate’s drug trafficking thriller Sicario, which charged its way into 10th place from 59 theaters this past weekend where it made $1.7M, drawing 56% men and 83% over 25. Coming off of great reviews (92% fresh) and festival play, Sicario looks to keep that core demo moving forward and should post a third weekend of $8M-$10M. The comp here is New Line’s 2005 gritty R-rated drama A History Of Violence which after debuting in 14 theaters went wide in its second weekend at 1,340 making $8.1M and finaling at $31.5M. Current B.O. for Sicario stands at $2.47M.
Lionsgate is also releasing Freeheld in five New York and Los Angeles locations. Based on a true story, Freeheld centers on a decorated New Jersey detective who is diagnosed with terminal cancer, but faces challenges from county officials when she decides to leave her pension to her domestic partner. Julianne Moore, Ellen Page and Steve Carell star.
Sony’s Tri-Star label has Robert Zemeckis’ New York City World Trade Center visual jawdropper The Walk about French tightrope walker Philippe Petit. Similar to Everest, The Walk is launching in largely in 440 Imax and large-format hubs, leaving Everest with only four Imax theaters. The Joseph Gordon-Levitt headliner opens tomorrow and is looking forward to $3M over five days, though the anticipation by the industry is that the film could do more. In addition to the film capitalizing on the Imax format with its staggering, swooping, 100-story views, it also a love letter to the Twin Towers. There aren’t any sneak previews for The Walk tonight.
As part of its VOD deal, Weinstein Co. is finally releasing the 1940s noir Shanghai in 100 theaters with hopes of making $1K a location. The film will be playing over a short window. It has been in the can for the last five years, but has had a foreign run where it has accumulated $15M, 79% of that coming from Japan and China.
Fox Searchlight is taking its Davis Guggenheim documentary He Named Me Malala out in four New York and Los Angeles playdates about a Pakistani school girl coming up against the Taliban following her opinions on girls’ education.