Weekend Box Office: ‘Maze Runner’ Sprints To the Top Spot

Unless you’re 20th Century Fox -which had four films in this weekend’s top ten-, box office business over the past three days was nothing to get excited about. In fact, a collective yawn would be a more appropriate response. The week’s sole new arrival, Fox’s The Maze Runner: The Death Cure, managed to generate enough business to unseat the powerhouse hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle to become the new number one film in the country.

With a selection of tired holdovers and a new arrival with minimal appeal outside its established fan base, the top ten films fell three percent from last week’s totals and ten percent from last year at this time. With Super Bowl Sunday looming one week from today, business next weekend is only going to get worse.

The third and final installment in the mid-sized young adult Fox franchise, The Maze Runner: The Death Cure scored $23.5 million in estimated sales from 3,787 theaters in its opener. The Death Cure was originally set to open in February of 2017 but was delayed when actor Dylan O’Brien suffered injuries while filming.

Critics didn’t care much for The Death Cure, giving the film a 44% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 51/100 on Metacritic. Ticket buyers –of which 57% were under the age of 25- were a little more kind. They gave the new Maze Runner a “B+” grade on CinemaScore.

The domestic debut for The Death Cure was the lowest of the three Maze Runner films to date, which is good that the series is coming to a close. The $23.5 million scored by Cure was somewhat lower than the $32.5 million earned by the 2014 original and the $30.3 banked by the 2015 sequel. Both of those entries were far stronger overseas, which is where The Death Cure will need to really score to make up for diminishing stateside returns. So far, The Death Cure has banked $18 million internationally.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle may no longer be the biggest film in the land, but it is still drawing decent crowds. In its sixth weekend of release, the Sony blockbuster added an estimated $16.4 million from 3,553 screens. Down 16%, Welcome to the Jungle has commanded a massive $338 million so far.

Welcome to the Jungle officially passed 2007’s Spider-Man 3 Sunday to become the third biggest Sony release of the new millennium, just behind the first two Spider-Man films. Overseas, The Rock and his pals pocketed another $17.7 million this weekend, bringing the new offshore total for Jumanji to $484 million. The next chapter in the Jumanji franchise arrives in December 2019.

After a month of limited release -and without the benefit of a single Oscar nomination under its belt-, Entertainment Studios finally expanded the Scott Cooper historical drama Hostiles nationwide Friday to 2,816 theaters. The expansion was good for a decent $10.2 million. The overall domestic total for the Christian Bale/Wes Studi feature stands at $12 million. Reviews for Hostiles were generally positive. The film scored a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes, a 65/100 from Metacritic and a “B” from CinemaScore.

Another film that didn’t see much of a impact from a lack of Oscar nominations was Fox’s blockbuster musical The Greatest Showman. In its sixth week on 2,663 screens, the Hugh Jackman smash eased a mere 11% in business to earn an estimated $9.5 million this weekend. To date, The Greatest Showman has brought in $126.4 million.

Should the film continue to hold as strong as it has, Greatest Showman could surpass the $152 million brought in by La La Land one year ago to become the most popular film musical since 2002’s Chicago. Foreign contributions for The Greatest Showman stand at $133 million so far.

Rounding out the top five was Fox’s The Post with $8.8 million from 2,640 theaters. Off 24%, the Steven Spielberg-directed drama has brought in $58.5 million after six weeks. While the hoped-for Oscar nominations for The Post were largely a no go on Tuesday, the film has caught on with adult ticket buyers. The latter should help power the Tom Hanks/Meryl Streep headliner to around the $85-90 million range by the end of its run. Overseas, The Post has earned $24.5 million.

  1.  12 Strong (Warner) $8.6 million (-45%); $30 million
  2.  Den of Thieves (STX) $8.3 million (-45%); $28.5 million
  3.  The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight) $5.7 million (+161%); $37.6 million
  4.  Paddington 2 (Warner) $5.5 million (-30%); $32 million
  5.  Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Disney) $4.1 million (-36%); $611 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of the Helen Mirren/Jason Clarke horror feature Winchester.

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