Weekend Forecast: “Scorch Trials” “Black Mass” in Heated Race for First

Two appealing yet very different films are being released this weekend, and both of which have chances of opening over $30M. First off is the highly anticipated Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, the sequel to last years surprise hit and the latest in the successful young adult adaptation trend. The other new release is Black Mass, the first widely appealing film for adults in several weeks. What’s surprising is that Fandango is reporting sales of both films are neck and neck, shocking given Black Mass is aiming for an older audience and Scorch Trials has a built in, rabid teenage fanbase. It will be very interesting to see how both films play out this weekend.

The Scorch Trials faces some issues in its opening. For one, the first film was a much easier sell, from its simple yet intriguing premise and interesting visuals. Scorch Trials instead seems to not have an exact idea of what is going on other than general post-apocalyptic shenanigans and the characters from the original. The first film made only 31% of its total from its opening weekend, highly unusual for the genre. In comparison, The Hunger Games made up 37% and Divergent  made up 36%. The first film was a sleeper word of mouth hit, whereas its successor is bound to be much more front loaded. It also has a much higher budget to boot; the original cost a modest $34M, whereas this film nearly doubled that at $61M. However, overseas performance is barely an issue, as overseas grosses are likely to be the lions’ share of its worldwide gross. Reviews are also fairly poor, with a 45% on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to the originals respectable 64%. Still, it is likely to get a decent bump up from its predecessor.

Black Mass stars Johnny Depp as legendary gangster Whitey Bugley, and has the potential to be one of the biggest surprise hits of the year. It solves the problem many films of this genre have in that it has mass appeal towards a younger audience, with Johnny Depp supposedly making a major comeback in addition to its fantastic marketing that sells it as a high stakes, slick and cool crime drama. Not to mention, it will likely be a huge hit with adult audiences. It has a fairly heft $53M budget which it likely won’t have a very hard time making back, especially if it becomes a word of mouth hit. It certainly has plenty of upcoming competition, but if it can make over $30M its practically a lock for $100M domestic.

Another interesting note is that Everest is being released one week early exclusively in IMAX 3D, where it will take over about 540 theaters. It seems to be marketing to the same type of appeal as films such as Gravity, but its mountain climbing premise doesn’t feel like something that ‘needs’ to be seen on the biggest screen possible (something that helped Gravity and Interstellar make up a massive percentage of their gross’ from IMAX screens) without a lot of built up excitement, Everest probably won’t do huge business this weekend, especially with competition from Scorch Trials and Black Mass, as well as The Walk just five days after its nationwide release, which is doing a similar early IMAX release.

Predictions

  1. Maze Runner – The Scorch Trials – $37.5M
  2. Black Mass – $33M
  3. The Visit – $10.1M
  4. The Perfect Guy – $8.5M
  5. War Room – $6.2M

Everest – $2.1M

The Bottom Line

Considering its foreign grosses are going to be the majority of its total, Maze Runner doesn’t need to do huge business in its opening. Still, it does need a sequel bump and should get at least $35M this weekend to get a pass. Black Mass will likely have a very long run, but with huge social media excitement and great reviews, should be getting $25M this weekend.

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