'Maze Runner 2' sprints past Johnny Depp's 'Black Mass' with $30.3 million

Sun Sep 20, 2015 4:48pm EDT
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By Brent Lang

LOS ANGELES, (Variety.com) - Mobsters, mountain climbers, and teenage racers piled into multiplexes this weekend, lifting the overall box office, but preventing any one film from dominating ticket sales.

"The Maze Runner: Scorch Trails," a sequel to last year's post-apocalyptic young adult hit, fared best. It got off to a solid start by topping charts with $30.3 million. Filmed for $61 million and distributed by 20th Century Fox, the picture bowed in 3,791 locations, receiving intense competition from "Black Mass," which likely contributed to it failing to match or exceed the $32.5 million debut of its predecessor.

"Black Mass," a look Boston gangster Whitey Bulger and his unholy alliance with the FBI, has been hailed as a return to form for Johnny Depp, who had squandered critical and audience goodwill with too many "Mortdecai's" and "Lone Rangers."

Bolstered by a cast of respected character actors and veterans such as Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Kevin Bacon cost $53 million to make. Strong reviews helped push the Warner Bros. film to a respectable second place finish with $23.4 million across 3,188 locations. That puts it in line with other Beantown crime dramas such as "The Departed," which started with $26 million in 2006 and "The Town," which kicked off to $23.8 million in 2010.

Then there was Universal's "Everest," which opted to give a wide berth to gangster rats and futuristic teens by opening in a special, Imax and premium format run. The film aped an approach used by "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" in 2011, which debuted to $13.3 million before having its wide release.

"Everest" bowed to a sterling $7.6 million across 545 screens, for a per-screen average of $13,867 and a fifth place finish. The $55 million adventure film stars Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, and Jake Gyllenhaal. Its reception is good news for "The Walk," the Sony film about tightrope walker Philippe Petit, which is employing a similar Imax and premium format debut as a way to generate buzz.

The top five was rounded out by Universal's "The Visit," which picked up $11.3 million in its second weekend and third place, and Sony's "The Perfect Guy," which finished with $9.7 million in fourth position. The films have made $42.3 million and $41.4 million, respectively.

That left "Captive," Paramount's attempt to wrangle the faith-based crowds that lifted "War Room" to box office heights, with roughly $1.4 million after bowing on 806 locations. It's a mediocre showing, but given the film's $2 million budget, it doesn't carry a lot of risk. "Captive" is a true story about a woman (Kate Mara) who gains strength from celebrity pastor Rick Warren's inspirational books while being held hostage by an ex-convict (David Oyelowo).   Continued...

Cast members Kaya Scodelario (L) and Dylan O'Brien from the film "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials", pose for pictures in Beverly Hills, California August 28, 2015. REUTERS/Phil McCarten