Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, so studios knew no one would be going to the movies, which is why there are no major releases next week.  Instead, they dumped what they had this weekend– five wide new releases– and audiences stepped over them to go see ‘The Martian’ either again or for the first time.  Ridley Scott’s sci fi drama accomplished a rare feat– after dropping out of the top spot last week and being supplanted by new release ‘Goosebumps’, ‘The Martian’ climbed back into the top spot.  ‘Goosebumps’ slipped into second and Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks drama ‘Bridge of Spies’ proved steady at #3.  Previous #1, ‘Hotel Transylvania 2’ hung in at #5, buoyed by the looming All Hallow’s Eve.

That’s right.  Five new movies either opened wide or expanded only to be snubbed by audiences, with only ONE of them entering the Top Five.  That “honor” belongs to the Vin Diesel vehicle ‘The Last Witch Hunter’ which hunted down $10.8 million, but on a budget of $70 million, that’s nothing to sing about. The failure is blamed on the fact that the movie was a rote action movie with nothing else to offer other than it’s popular leading man.  But this marks one of Diesel’s lowest openings ever, barely topping ‘Babylon A.D.’ which debuted with $9.5 million. At this rate, it’s a pretty safe bet Diesel will be cranking out five to twenty more ‘Fast & Furious’ sequels.

But speaking of sequels, Lionsgate had franchise plans for ‘The Last Witch Hunter’ and were already developing a second film.  Expect those plans to be scrapped or repurposed as this disaster surely doesn’t justify another helping.

And that’s it for the Top Five.  Here are the official numbers:

  1. The Martian (20th Century Fox) – $15.9M
  2. Goosebumps (Sony) – $15.9M
  3. Bridge of Spies (Disney) – $11.4M
  4. The Last Witch Hunter (Lionsgate) – $10.8M
  5. Hotel Transylvania 2 (Sony) – $9M

‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’, the sixth ‘Paranormal Activity’ movie, had the lowest opening in the series.  Coming it at #6 with $8.2M, it is the first to only earn in the single digits.  Perhaps realizing they had a turkey on their hands, Paramount already had an unprecedented plan in place with ‘Ghost Dimension’ and will be offering it on VOD once it drops below 300 screens.  This deal miffed some theater owners who opted not to screen it, meaning that ‘Ghost Dimension’ opened in 1,000 fewer locations than its predecessor.

Paramount would probably be wise to let this series lie dormant for a few years.  If not, expect subsequent sequels to go straight to VOD, skipping the costly nationwide distribution process.

Not a new movie, but one going wide after two weeks in limited release was biopic ‘Steve Jobs’ which did incredibly well in its limited run and has received excellent reaction from viewers and critics.  Unfortunately the delay in wide release didn’t help build word-of-mouth, but rather killed interest as the media cycle for it had run its course.  It made $7.3M and took the #7 spot… it BARELY topped the previous biopic ‘Jobs’ starring Ashton freakin’ Kutcher.  Ashton. Freakin’.  Kutcher.

But at least these two bombs made the Top Ten!  The other two major releases couldn’t even muster that!  Bill Murray vehicle ‘Rock The Kasbah’ proved to be Murray’s worst opening at $1.5M, despite Murray calling it his best film.  Critics disagree.  It has an 8% freshness ranking on Rotten Tomatoes and viewer reaction has been equally harsh.  It landed with a thud at #13.

Doing astoundingly worse, at #15, Universal’s 80s cartoon adaptation ‘Jem and the Holograms’ only managed to take in $1.3M, which is the lowest opening EVER for a major studio wide release and the third lowest opening overall, when independent films are factored in.  Universal basically screwed themselves by alienating actual fans of the cartoon by making the movie nothing like the source material.  Instead, they attempted to court social media savvy Millennials, who’d never heard of the cartoon and weren’t impressed by the bland trailers and marketing for the film.  As a result, the film essentially attracted no one– doing the math, with the amount it made divided by the number of screens it played on, many showings had zero viewers.  A lot has been made of the movie’s microscopic $5 M budget, but at this rate this flop won’t even make THAT back!

Next week, there are a few new movies coming out including ‘Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse’ but it might be coming out too late to cash in on Halloween.  Then there’s Bradley Cooper’s new… comedy?  Gangster movie?  It’s called ‘Burnt’ but its bizarre trailer makes it hard to tell what KIND of movie it is, much less what it’s about.  But in it he plays a chef.

Check back next week to see who ‘The Martian’ beats this time!

Sources: Deadline, IGN