This weekend marks, in effect, the official start of the fall film season, or as I like to call it, the Grown Ups Time of the Year. Gone, for the most part, are the superhero movies, the remakes, the sequels and dumb comedies, and in their place are the more adult, original films geared toward older, more mature audiences. But more importantly, geared toward the Oscar voters. As a result comes an onslaught of “Oscar bait” films from now until the end of the year, so that they remain fresh in Oscar voters’ minds, unlike a film released back in February.
The first two major potential Oscar bets came out this week – “Black Mass” with Johnny Depp playing the notorious Boston gangster Whitey Bulger, and the Universal adventure drama “Everest” about the infamous doomed 1996 mountain climbing expedition.
“Black Mass,” of course, is of special interest since, along with other things, it marks a sort of comeback for Depp as a serious actor, after seemingly decades of playing a mascara wearing pirate, and endless roles as oddball characters in countless Tim Burton movies.
And the from the reviews, it looks like it paid off, with Depp being seen as a lock for a Best Actor Oscar nomination, due to his mesmerizing portrayal as Bulger. And in terms of box office
, after a series of bombs, “Mass” did fairly well, grossing $23 million, coming in at second place.
As for Universal’s “Everest,” the studio has taken a decidedly different approach. Though the film opened in the U.K. and elsewhere on both regular and IMAX theaters, the studio decided to open the film in the States exclusively in only 545 IMAX theaters, before opening it wider in regular theaters over the upcoming weeks. And as a strategy, it worked pretty well, grossing an excellent $7.5 million in only those 545 IMAX screens. The studio is also hoping that the positive reviews and word of mouth will get filmgoers intrigued as it rolls out into more theaters.
But the No.1 film this weekend was the followup to “The Maze Runner,” officially titled “The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails,” with $30 million, which nearly equals the $32 million opening the first “Maze Runner,” which went on to gross over $100 million domestically, and over $340 million worldwide. Who knew? Did anyone pay attention to the first film? Had anyone even heard of the YA books that the films are based on? I sure hadn’t. Which brings up a question I have asked before: Are there any black YA book series that could be turned into movies?
Of course it was obvious that last week’s No.1 film, “The Perfect Guy,” was going to drop, but by how much was the question? The answer is a lot. I mean a whole lot. The film dropped nearly 63% from last weekend, grossing only $9.6 million this weekend. Now for those who liked the film, the good news is that, because of the film’s very modest $12 million budget, it will make a profit. But bad news is that, either the film just flat out sucks and bad word of mouth is killing it, or that everyone who wanted to see it basically came out to see it last week, and there are not many left who are going to see it.
“War Room” continues to do very well, considering the competition, and is nearing $50 million with $6.2 million this weekend. What the film basically proves is that there is an audience for this type of film, and since people basically got tired of Tyler Perry movies as he’s moved on to TV (for now) that doesn’t mean that his audience is gone too. They were still out there waiting for something to, in effect, take his place; and that now seems to be the white brother team and Alex and Stephen Kendrick.
Of the five films they made since 2003, “War Room” is their biggest box office hit to date, and so one has to ask whether this mean that the Kendricks intend to make more black faith-based films, now that they’ve hit the jackpot; or will they go back to their previous white cast films? We shall see.
“Captive,” another faith based movie, released by Paramount, and starring David Oyelowo, basically tanked with under $2 million on just over 800 theaters.
The drug cartel actioner “Sicario” had the biggest per screen average of $65,000 on just 6 screens.
And “Straight Out of Compton” continues to pull in bucks, inching closer to $160 million domestically, and at least another $50 million overseas. Also M. Night Shyamalan’s “comeback” film, “The Visit,” with its modest $5 million production budget, is becoming his most successful film box office in years.
1) Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Fox $30,300,000 –
2) Black Mass WB $23,360,000
3) The Visit Uni. $11,350,000 Total: $42,348,320 $5 2
4) The Perfect Guy SGem $9,640,000 Total: $41,350,472
5) Everest Uni. $7,560,000
6) War Room TriS $6,250,000 – Total: $49,088,662
7) A Walk in the Woods BG $2,732,730 – Total: $24,792,245
8) Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Par. $2,250,000 Total: $191,732,210
9) Straight Outta Compton Uni. $1,970,000 Total: $158,921,260
10) Captive Par. $1,400,000 –
11) No Escape Wein. $1,017,000 Total: $26,237,002
12) 90 Minutes in Heaven Gold. $1,005,082 Total: $3,747,378