September 20, 2014

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Maze Runner” Races Past “Tombstones,” “Leave You”


It’s looking like another dim weekend at the box office.  According to preliminary numbers at Deadline, THE MAZE RUNNER (20th) will easily race past its weak competition.  With $11M on Friday (that includes $1.1M from Thursday night), it should hit $28-30M for the weekend, unless it turns out to be unduly frontloaded (always a possibility with teen-targeted movies).  That’s far from the $22.8M opening day and $54.6M weekend of Divergent, let alone the Hunger Games-level mega-YA franchises, but Maze Runner was produced on a relatively modest budget of around $35M, and even though that number goes much higher when worldwide marketing costs are included, it’s on track for a fair level of success.

A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES (Universal) is shaping up as one of Liam Neeson’s weaker recent vehicles, with less than $5M on Friday and a weekend that might hit $14M.  That would be the lowest opening in a starring role of his post-Taken career.  Tombstones, too, was inexpensive with a $25M production budget (and a smaller marketing spend than Maze Runner‘s), but it’s still looking problematic–especially with direct competition from The Equalizer coming next week.

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU (Warners) will hope to follow the model of The Hundred-Foot Journey, which started with a $3.7M opening day and an $11M weekend, and with its older-skewing audience, has now topped $50M in the US.  Leave You, which has a much more promotable cast, had a $4M Friday and could reach $12M by Sunday.  It’s also low-budget by big-studio standards ($20M), although it was promoted with Warners’ usual big-ticket marketing campaign.  While there are plenty of movies coming up for older audiences, Leave You has the comedy segment to itself for a while.

NO GOOD DEED (Screen Gems/Sony) plunged 65% from last Friday to $3M, heading for a $9M weekend.  A DOLPHIN TALE 2 (Alcon/Warners) fell by about 50% from its opening day last week to $2.1M for an $8M weekend.  GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (Marvel/Disney) should add another $5M to its vault this weekend, bringing it close to $320M in the US.

THE DROP (Fox Searchlight) was probably hurt by the arrival of Tombstones, which is aimed at exactly the same audience.  Despite adding almost 50% more theatres, its Friday-to-Friday number was down 55% to $675K and a $2M weekend, with a per-theatre average that may not hit $2000.  Even worse was Kevin Smith’s walrus-horror-comedy TUSK (A24), which may not get much above a $1000 average for the weekend at 602 theatres.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."