The third installment of the young adult “Maze Runner” franchise, “The Death Cure” (20th Century Fox), pulled in over $23 million to take the weekend top spot. Strong holdovers and a bigger than usual boost for a wide swath of Oscar nominees led to a weekend total just under the total for the same late January date last year. Two weekends in a row lag behind 2017, but by the end of the first month the tally should pull three per cent ahead.
Big titles led by “Black Panther” (Disney) in February will determine if 2018 can keep pace with a very strong second month last year (led by “Get Out”) — going up against three weeks of Winter Olympics.
But holdover movies in release made most of the noise this weekend, led by non-Oscar nominee “Hostiles” (Entertainment Studios) which scored third place after its initial modest awards-qualifying dates and big city expansion. Two Best Picture nominees placed in the Top Ten: “The Post” is at #5, down 24 per cent in its third wide weekend, and “The Shape of Water” jumped 160 per cent, more than doubling its screen count to reach 1,854 and eighth place. Add five additional lead category contenders that placed in the top 20 and the result is an Oscar-angled box office far above normal. (See more about these films in our specialty box office report.)
But these high-end, older audience titles pale against the ongoing results for two Christmas studio releases. “Jumani: Welcome to the Jungle” (Sony) and “The Greatest Showman” (20th Century Fox) placed second and fourth in their sixth weekend, down only a tiny 16 and 11 per cent respectively. Both grabbed mainstream audiences early and haven’t let go, with terrific word of mouth propelling them farther than most Oscar nominees. “Jumanji” is way ahead of all, while “Showman” should end up a little behind “Dunkirk” and “Get Out.”
Fox with three of the top five (“Maze Runner,” “Showman,” and the “Post”) plus their Searchlight division titles comprised just under 40 per cent of the total audience. With their pending merger with Disney, this performance over multiple titles strengthens their case for continued production, especially for autonomous specialty producer-distributor and Oscar-winner Searchlight.
“Maze” joins fellow sequel “Insidious: The Last Key” as the second 2018 release to open over $20 million (“Maze” is about $6 million lower). The $62 million production might seem soft compared to cost except for its $88 million in foreign grosses. Fox’s opening audience statistics showed even male/female interest, 57 per cent under 25, and a strong minority following (the young leads are multiracial). It opened down a bit less than 25 per cent from the second franchise entry, not a bad performance, particularly with international to buttress it.
As always, a lack of new titles boosts holdovers across the board. Last week’s modest openers “12 Strong” (Warner Bros.) and “Den of Thieves” (STX) both fell 45 per cent, reasonable for a second weekend. It should earn both a third week in most theaters with only Lionsgate’s horror entry “Winchester” opening against the Super Bowl. That’s a bit more disappointing for “12 Strong,” since military-themed titles, which often thrive in January, often hold much better.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Disney) fell less than those two but more than many other titles. Its 36 per cent drop left it out of the Top Ten in its seventh week. “The Force Awakens” had ten Top Ten weekends, was third in its seventh with an $11 million gross. “Rogue One” managed one more than “Jedi” with seven and grossed $5.3 million a year ago. That compared to $4.2 million for “Jedi.” It already has already amassed $611 million (best for 2017) and $700 million additional foreign. But this title was more front-loaded with minor signs of some mixed audience reaction despite mostly favorable response.
Of note is that it was edged out for tenth by “Padmaavat” (Viva), an Indian historical/religious epic opening worldwide this weekend. It played in only 324 theaters, averaging an impressive $13,188.
The Top Ten
1. Maze Runner: The Death Cure (20th Century Fox) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 52; Est. budget: $62 million
$23,500,000 in 3,787 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $6,205; Cumulative: $23,500,000
2. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony) Week 6; Last weekend #1
$16,400,000 (-16%) in 3,553 theaters (-151); PTA: $4,616; Cumulative: $338,057,000
3. Hostiles (Entertainment Studios) Week 5; Last weekend #
$10,205,000 (+1,659%) in 2,815 theaters (+2,696); PTA: $3,624; Cumulative: $12,053,000
4. The Greatest Showman (20th Century Fox) Week 5; Last weekend #
$9,500,000 (-11%) in 2,663 theaters (-60); PTA: $3,567; Cumulative: $126,475,000
5. The Post (20th Century Fox) Week 5; Last weekend #
$8,850,000 (-24%) in 2,640 theaters (-211); PTA: $3,352; Cumulative: $58,536,000
6. 12 Strong (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #
$8,645,000 (-45%) in 3,018 theaters (+16); PTA: $2,861; Cumulative: $29,760,000
7. Den of Thieves (STX) Week 2; Last weekend #
$8,360,000 (-45%) in 2,432 theaters (no change); PTA: $; Cumulative: $28,502,000
8. The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight) Week 9; Last weekend #
$5,700,000 (+161%) in 1,854 theaters (+1,001); PTA: $3,074; Cumulative: $37,679,000
9. Paddington 2 (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend #
$5,570,000 (-30%) in 2,792 theaters (-901); PTA: $1,995,000; Cumulative: $32,020,000
10. Padmaavat (Viva) NEW
$4,273,000 in theaters; PTA: $13,188,000; Cumulative: $4,273,000