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Box office hits and misses: The Martian goes into orbit with huge opening weekend

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October has been a big month for cosmic cinema in recent years, with director Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity raking in an impressive $55.7 million on its opening weekend two years ago this month, and now with Ridley Scott’s The Martian performing a similar feat in achieving a $55 million premiere.

The big-screen adaptation of Andy Weir’s 2011 novel about an astronaut stranded on Mars not only took the top spot in the weekend box-office rankings, but it came close to beating the October opening-weekend record set by Gravity on the very same weekend in 2013. The film’s accomplishment is particularly notable in that it was screened on fewer IMAX screens than Gravity was when it premiered.

Scott’s film has received rave reviews from critics and general audiences alike, leading many box-office prognosticators to believe The Martian is likely to stick around in theaters for quite a while. The film has a long way to go to match the $274 million in domestic box-office gross and $723 million worldwide earned by Gravity, but with enough positive momentum it’s entirely possible.

Second on the list of the weekend’s highest-grossing films was Hotel Transylvania 2, which set the September premiere record just a week ago and stayed strong with another $33 million over the weekend. The film’s total earnings now amount to more than $90 million over just two weekends in theaters, and the film is inching closer to becoming the 20th film of the year to earn more than $100 million in U.S. theaters.

It was a big drop down to the weekend’s third-place film, with the critically praised drug war drama Sicario adding $12 million to its total gross after expanding its initial, limited run by more than 2,500 theaters this week. The film, which stars Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benicio Del Toro, has earned more than $15.1 million domestically so far and garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics.

Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway’s comedy The Intern slid into fourth place in the weekend rankings after adding an additional $11.6 million to its respectable $36.5 million gross so far. The comedy, written and directed by Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated, What Women Want), has also earned another $35.6 million internationally, bringing its worldwide gross so far to a surprisingly decent $72.1 million.

Despite falling to fifth place with a $7.7 million weekend, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials has apparently earned more than enough for 20th Century Fox to officially green-light the third and final film in the trilogy, Maze Runner: The Death Cure. The announcement was made last week to move forward with the follow-up to The Scorch Trials, which has earned $63.2 million in U.S. theaters over three weekends and $211 worldwide so far. The Death Cure is currently scheduled to hit theaters February 17, 2017.

Also sticking around in the weekend box-office rankings was Johnny Depp’s gangster drama Black Mass ($5.9 million for the weekend), as well as the mountain-climbing ensemble drama Everest ($5.5 million) and M. Night Shyamalan’s widely praised thriller The Visit ($3.9 million), which has already far exceeded most predictions for the film. The final two films to sneak into the top-ten chart were the faith-based drama War Room ($2.8 million) and the stalker thriller The Perfect Guy ($2.4 million).

The other major release to hit theaters over the weekend was Robert Zemeckis’ high-wire adventure The Walk, based on the true story of Philippe Petit’s 1974 tightrope walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Like Everest, the film opened with a limited series of screenings in large-format 3D and IMAX theaters, but earned just $1.5 million from screenings in 448 theaters.

For comparison, Everest earned more than $7.2 million from roughly the same number of theaters during its first weekend. That doesn’t bode well for the film, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Petit, and the movie will need its early, positive reviews to generate a bit more buzz if it’s going to have a successful run in theaters.

Next weekend features the release of the much-anticipated biopic Steve Jobs, which already has many pundits predicting it will receive a pile of Academy Award nominations. The upcoming weekend’s movie schedule also includes the premiere of horror-comedy The Final Girls, which has been receiving quite a bit of positive buzz leading into the Halloween season, as well as Warner Bros. Pictures’ family-friendly fantasy adventure Pan, with its ensemble cast of familiar faces putting a new spin on the tale of Peter Pan.

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