To no one’s surprise, Ridley Scott’s adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel ‘The Martian’ conquered the box office this weekend.  The film has gotten rave reviews and fans have embraced the sci fi flick in which Matt Damon plays Mark Watney, an astronaut who gets left behind on the desolate planet after an aborted mission and must find a way back to Earth.

Earlier in the week saw the historic discovery of water on Mars– a real world event that coincidentally is being credited with spurring interest in the movie.  Ironically, other real world events may have kept ‘The Martian’ from taking the record for the biggest October opening ever– a title which belongs to last year’s ‘Gravity’ which earned $55.9M in its first weekend.  Along the East Coast, fears of Hurricane Joaquin and flooding in the Carolinas may have kept just enough potential moviegoers safe and dry at home to allow ‘Gravity’ to retain its crown.

Another factor working against ‘The Martian’ was lack of IMAX screenings, as those theaters were reserved for Sony’s ‘The Walk’, which like ‘Everest’ a few weeks ago, opened strictly in the larger format before going wide next week.  More on that in a bit.

Here is the top five:

  1. The Martian (20th Century Fox) $55 million ($45.2 million international)
  2. Hotel Transylvania 2 (Sony) $33 million ($20.4 million international)
  3. Sicario (Lionsgate) $12.1 million ($3.3 million international)
  4. The Intern (Warner Brothers) $11.6 million ($15.7 million international)
  5. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (20th Century Fox)) $7.7 million ($13.7 million international)

‘Hotel Transylvania 2’ set records last week and strong word of mouth, family-friendly subject matter and the approach of Halloween helped it stand strong in its sophomore weekend.  Drug war movie ‘Sicario’ starring Emily Blunt in a non-traditional action role went wide and scored big, landing at third place.  ‘The Intern’, which targets an alternate audience, older females, continues to perform well as counter programming, while ‘Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials’ looks to be running a marathon, hanging in at #5.

As mentioned, ‘The Walk’, like ‘Everest,’ took an unusual marketing strategy by opening in IMAX prior to a wide release, but despite great reception, ‘Everest’ did not perform up to expectation upon expanding to regular 2D theaters.  It did, however, manage to crack the top five with its IMAX opening weekend.  ‘The Walk’ only managed to scrape in $1.55M for a #10 limited debut.

One marketing insider warned:

“All this does is let the air out of the tires.  IMAX, PLF, 3D — these are all choices we offer a consumer when they decide to go to the movies. When you tell them this is suppose to be the only way to see this film, and that all those other 2D screens don’t count, you’re force feeding them, and that’s a dangerous maneuver.”

This could spell trouble next week, when ‘The Walk’ goes wide.  ‘Hotel Transylvania 2’ may get some competition by live-action family flick ‘Pan’ and there is strong buzz for ‘Steve Jobs’ starring Michael Fassbender as the tech innovator.

Check back for the numbers next week!

Source: Deadline