Although there is only one new movie opening in wide release, plus another that expands nationwide, it is already shaping up to be a big weekend at the box office, following the record-breaking numbers put up by Hotel Transylvania last week. The animated sequel took in $47.5 million during its first few days, the highest opening ever in the month of September. But this weekend, Ridley Scott's The Martian is looking to set the box office on fire. According to the projections at BoxOffice.com, the outer space thriller is eyeing a massive $52 million debut, although it will face some competition from Lionsgate's Sicario, which goes wide after an incredible run in limited release. Still, The Martian has a shot of breaking some fall box office records of its own, if it opens higher than these projections
The Martian is expected to open in approximately 3,750 theaters nationwide starting October 2, with the nation's critics at Rotten Tomatoes giving it a phenomenal 93% "Fresh" rating before it hits theaters this Friday. Ridley Scott's sci-fi drama has been winning over critics ever since its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month, with some even calling it the best movie of the year, so far, following the quest to save an astronaut stranded on Mars. We still have a long way to go until the awards season races truly start to heat up, but The Martian has emerged as one of the top front runners. With an all-star cast including Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Sean Bean, Michael Peña, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jeff Daniels, The Martian has a shot to continue the tradition of outer space movies that are both financial and critical hits, including Gravity and Interstellar, which opened in the same frame the past two years. It's possible that, if it over-performs, The Martian could break Gravity's two-year record for the biggest fall opening in box office history, with $55.7 million. The record is within The Martian's reach, but we'll have to wait and see if it makes history.
Hotel Transylvania will drop to second place with $24.2 million, with The Intern dropping to third place with $9.8 million in their respective second weekends. While it's tough to say for sure, since we don't know any specifics about its expansion, we're predicting that Sicario will jump from tenth place to fourth place at the box office with $7.5 million. All we know is that Sicario will expand nationwide, which could be anywhere from 1,000 theaters to 3,000 theaters, but this thriller's box office numbers are so impressive in its first two weeks, we have no doubt its expansion will pull in more big numbers.
Sicario opened in just four theaters on September 18, taking in an astounding $401,288 for an incredible $66,881 per-screen average. Last weekend, it expanded to 59 theaters, taking 10th place with $1.7 million with a $29,107 per-screen average. If it can continue this torrid pace, amassing huge per-screen averages, Sicario could end up being both a bona fide critical and commercial hit. Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin lead a diverse and talented cast in Sicario, but we'll have to see if the raves from critics and this star-studded cast will be enough to lure in movie goers from around the country.
The Walk is also opening in IMAX theaters only this weekend, before expanding nationwide on October 9, and given the success of Everest in its IMAX-only debut a few weeks back, The Walk should do just as well, as we're predicting it will open in fifth place with $7.3 million. It isn't known exactly how many IMAX theaters The Walk will open in, but it will likely be around 500 theaters, which is approximately how many IMAX theaters Everest opened in. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Philippe Petit, whose daring high-wire walk between the Twin Towers in New York City made headlines around the world.
Rounding out the top 10 is The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials in sixth place with $6.9 million, Everest in seventh place with $6.2 million, Black Mass in eighth place with $5.9 million, The Visit in ninth place with $3.7 million, and The Perfect Guy in tenth place with $2.6 million. Unless it gets another big expansion, this weekend will mark War Room's first time dropping out of the top 10 since it hit theaters in late August. The faith-based film kept expanding week by week throughout the month of September, but it decreased by 25 theaters last week, so it seems unlikely that another expansion will happen. Still, it has been an impressive run for War Room, earning $55.9 million domestically so far from a $3 million budget, with practically no marketing or advertising.
Opening in limited release this weekend is Lionsgate's Freeheld, The Weinstein Company's Shanghai and Well Go USA's Partisan and Fox Searchlight's documentary He Named Me Malala. Shanghai's limited release comes with little fanfare, especially since the film first debuted at the Shanghai Film Festival way back in 2010. John Cusack leads an international cast including Li Gong, Chow Yun-Fat, David Morse, Ken Watanabe, Franka Potente, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Hugh Bonneville, but we'll have to see how audiences react to this film in limited release, opening in approximately 100 theaters.
Looking forward to next weekend, Warner Bros.' Pan is the only new wide release, with The Walk expanding nationwide. Opening in limited release is the highly-anticipated Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender, which will get a nationwide expansion on October 23, Picturehouse's Big Stone Gap, starring Patrick Wilson and Ashley Judd, Vertical Entertainment's The Final Girls starring Nina Dobrev and Taissa Farmiga and foreign films Victoria and Xenia. Be sure to check back on Sunday for the box office estimates, and again next Tuesday for next week's predictions. Until then, check out our projected top 10 below.
WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: