Weekend Box Office: ‘The Martian’ Scores October’s Second-Biggest Opening Ever

The Martian felt like a feel-good mishmash of Gravity and Interstellar (my review), and performed like it, earning an estimated $55 million in domestic box office this weekend, good enough for second best October opening of all time, behind Gravity‘s $55.8 million in 2013. (Interstellar earned $47.5 million in November last year.) The margin between The Martian and Gravity ($785,112) is narrow enough that The Martian could still end up ahead when the final numbers come in, and, unlike The Martian, Gravity had the benefit of higher-priced IMAX tickets.

It was good enough for Ridley Scott’s second-biggest opening since Hannibal. (Prometheus debuted to $51 million in June 2012.) Overseas, The Martian added $45.2 million for a $100.2 million opening worldwide, on a $108 million budget, with many of the biggest markets still to open. Openings aside, Gravity eventually earned $723 million worldwide, which would be a feat for The Martian, which did have a slightly better Cinemascore (A to A-).

Gravity scored an “A-” CinemaScore back in 2013 as it went on to enjoy weekends with drops no larger than 36.3% over its first seven weekends. In fact, over the course of its entire 31 week run, Gravity only dropped more than 50% three times. Being a major Oscar contender and 3D event film will do that. [BoxOfficeMojo]

The film played 46% 3D, 56% male, 72% over 25-years old. However, it earned an A+ Cinemascore rating from those under 25-years old. [Forbes]

There are a number of possibilities for The Martian‘s hot x-factor (kids haven’t seen it yet! water on Mars! Oscar chances!), but the bottom line is that it was pretty good and it made a lot of money and everyone’s happy.

Elsewhere, The Walk, from Sony/TriStar, utilized a unique strategy, an “IMAX sneak release,” opening in 448 IMAX and premium large-format locations and earning $1.5 million for the weekend and $1.9 million from Wednesday-Friday. No one can quite agree on whether that’s good or not, but the real test will be how well it does this weekend when it expands wide. You have to wonder if going head to head with The Martian, another feel-good, popcorn movie eye-candy picture might have hurt it. Imagine if The Walk opened last weekend, against Hotel Transylvania and The Intern. Or a few weekends back, against The Perfect Guy and The Visit.

Sicario expanded to 2,620 screens this week, earning a respectable $12 million, with an A- Cinemascore and 93% on RottenTomatoes (my review). The conventional wisdom with these “adult” themed movies is that they need the limited release to build buzz, and the studios seem to shoot for modest profitability. Which is a little confusing, because what isn’t sellable about Sicario? It’s a balls-to-the wall action thriller about drug cartels. Studios seem to assume this kind of movie could never be a blockbuster, but why not give it the same release and advertising budget as a Terminator or a Total Recall remake just to see what would happen? It’s an easy suggestion to make when it’s not my money, of course, but it’d be a fun experiment all the same.

This weekend brings us The Walk expanding, Steve Jobs opening in New York and L.A., and Pan, which promises to finally tell us of Peter Pan’s origin as a British WWII orphan. Finally, Hugh Jackman will get to let loose and chew a little scenery. He’s usually so subdued.

Here’s this week’s top 11, via Deadline.

1). The Martian (FOX), 3,831 theaters / $18.1M Fri. */ $22.3M Sat. (+23%) / $14.6M Sun. (-34%) /3-day cume: $55M /Wk 1
*includes Thursday previews of $2.5M.

2). Hotel Transylvania 2 (SONY), 3,754 theaters (0) / $7.5M Fri. /$15.7M Sat. (+110%) / $9.8M Sun. (-37%) / 3-day cume: $33M (-32%) / Total cume: $90.5M /Wk 2
Industry average: 3-day cume: $33.6M (-31%) / Total cume: $91.1M /Wk 2

3). Sicario (LGF), 2,620 theaters (+2561) / $4.3M Fri. /$4.7M Sat. (+9%) / $3.1M Sun. (-33%) /3-day cume: $12.1M (+603%) /Total cume: $15.1M /Wk 2
Industry average:  3-day cume: $11.8M (+592%)/Total cume: $14.8M /Wk 2

4). The Intern (WB), 3,320 theaters (+15)/ $3.6M Fri. / $5.2M Sat. (+45%) / $2.9M Sun. (-45%) /3-day cume: $11.6M (-34%)/Total cume: $36.5M/Wk 1

5). Maze Runner: Scorch Trials (FOX), 3,319 theaters (-473)/ $2.1M Fri. /$3.7M Sat. (+72%) / $1.9M Sun. (-49%) / 3-day cume: $7.65M (-46%)/ Total cume: $63.2M/Wk 3

6). Black Mass (WB), 2,768 theaters (-420)/ $1.8M Fri. / $2.6M Sat. (+47%) / $1.46M Sun. (-45%) / 3-day cume: $5.9M (-46%)/Total cume: $52.5M /Wk 3

7). Everest (UNI), 3,009 theaters (+3) / $1.6M Fri. / $2.5M Sat. (+56%) / $1.4M Sun. (-45%) / 3-day cume: $5.5M (-58%) /Total cume: $33.2M/Wk 3

8). The Visit (UNI), 2,296 theaters (-671)/ $1.2M Fri. / $1.9M Sat. (+64%) / $861K Sun. (-55%) /3-day cume: $3.9M (-41%) / Total cume: $57.7M / Wk 4

9). War Room (SONY), 1,746 theaters (-174) / $790K Fri. /$1.2M Sat. (+50%) / $825K Sun. (-30%) / 3-day cume: $2.8M (-34%)/ Total cume: $60.5M/ Wk 6

10). The Perfect Guy (SONY), 1,364 theaters (-525) / $685K Fri. /1.15$M Sat. (+66%) / $656K Sun. (-51%) / 3-day cume: $2.4M (-50%)/ Total cume: $52.6M /Wk 4

11). The Walk (SONY), 448 theaters / $390K Fri. / $700K Sat. (+79%) / $460K Sun. (-34%) / 3-day cume: $1.55M /Total cume: $2M/Wk 1
Bowed Wednesday