With a simple, well marketed premise, excellent reviews and popular source material, The Martian took in a fantastic $18M in its opening day, giving a weekend of well over $50M. Whether or not it can top the $55M weekend of Gravity is yet to be seen, but it is still all but guaranteed to take the second best October debut ever, which is a phenomenal result.
The Martian‘s $18M opening day is especially impressive given that it didn’t seem nearly as immediately interesting or marketable as something like Gravity or Interstellar. Both of those seemed like much more grand, epic adventures through space, whereas The Martian was sold as a fun, lighthearted and comedic story of a man on mars, stranded and waiting for rescue. Early teasers seemed much more serious and intense, whereas recent marketing has done an excellent job highlighting the films humorous moments, as well as the fantastic use of Jimmi Hendrix’ All Along the Watchtower. Fox also made a smart choice moving the film up from November 25th, where it faces much more competition. The first weekend of October has become a popular one for adult-oriented releases such as Gravity and Gone Girl, and The Martian will likely only solidify that trend. If it can hold similarly to those two films, The Martian may very well be en route to over $200M domestic. Audiences were very happy with the final product, giving it a glowing A Cinemascore.
Also opening was Sicario, which despite not being the big story of the week still did solid business. The cartel thriller opened to $4.3M on its opening day, giving it a weekend of over $12M. That’s a strong start given the films hard sell premise and extremely graphic content, not to mention its female lead. Strangely, it received an A- on Cinemascore, which is excellent for the type of film that it is. Having seen it myself, I would’ve expected something more in the low B range, but I’ve been wrong before. This is a very solid start for a film that will likely have very strong holds throughout the month of October.
Despite two very solid new openers, it wasn’t all good news; The Walk made just $182K on Thursday, and will likely fall short of $2M for the five day opening. Sony was expecting around $3M going into the weekend, yet managed less than half of that based on early number. That’s well below the $7.2M weekend of Everest, which opened to just $13.2M a week later. If The Walk follows a similar trajectory it would have a weekend of just $2-$3M. Granted that would be an insanely low debut, but it isn’t outside of the realm of possibility just yet.