'Maze Runner' sequel outpaces 'Black Mass' at box office

'Maze Runner' sequel outpaces 'Black Mass' at box office

NEW YORK (AP) — "The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" edged out Johnny Depp's "Black Mass" at box office, as the two films split young & old moviegoers in half on the first weekend of the fall movie season.

20th Century Fox's sequel to "The Maze Runner" earned an estimated $30.3 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. While that came in slightly below the debut of the 2014 young-adult dystopian sci-fi original, it counted as a win for a movie that cost $61 million to make.

Warner Bros.' "Black Mass," starring Johnny Depp as Boston gangster Whitey Bulger, premiered with $23.4 million. That's a strong sum for an R-rated adult drama, & it stabilizes a offensive box-office run for Depp following "Mortdecai," ''Transcendence" & "The Lone Ranger."

p>The audience for "The Scorch Trials" was 63 percent below the age of 25, according to Fox, while 89 percent of the audience for "Black Mass" was over 25, according to Warner Bros.

The draw for "Black Mass" was Depp's icy performance as Bulger, which has garnered better reviews for the actor & some Oscar buzz. Jeff Goldstein, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., said that 55 percent of the audience said in exit polls that Depp was their reason for seeing the movie, which features an ensemble including Joel Edgerton & Benedict Cumberbatch.

A diverse cast leading to a diverse audience was the key for "Scorch Trials," said Chris Aronson, head of domestic distribution for Fox. Wes Ball's adaptation of James Dashner's young-adult novel stars Dylan O'Brien, Ki Hong Lee & Kaya Scodelario. More than half of its audience was made up of minorities. It moreover performed well abroad, earning $43.3 million internationally.

But North American theaters had the distinct feel of fall, with a crowded slate of well-reviewed films — some of them awards hopefuls — opening in more limited release & hoping to build strong word of mouth for longer runs at the multiplex.

Universal's 3-D mountaineering thriller "Everest," starring Josh Brolin & Jason Clarke, opened with $7.6 million, playing only on 545 IMAX & large-format screens. It expands wide next weekend.

"Sicario," the Lionsgate drug-war thriller starring Emily Blunt, Brolin & Benicio del Toro, opened in New York & Los Angeles ahead of its expansion over the next two weeks. In just six theaters, it took in $390,000 with an superior per-screen average of $65,000.

The fall season, said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office data firm Rentrak, received off to a satisfactory start, with a wealth of options for moviegoers & well-reviewed releases that can play beyond opening weekend.

"It's approximately that playability, the long-term conversation on social media that keeps people buzzing approximately 'Sicario,' 'Black Mass' & other films yet to come," Dergarabedian said. "The moviegoing habit changes in the fall, not only how & when they go to the movies, yet how they talk approximately the movies & for how long."

Paramount Picture's "Captive," starring David Oyelowo & Kate Mara, however, struggled to find moviegoers. The faith-based thriller couldn't follow in the steps of the lucrative Christian drama "War Room," grossing just $1.4 million in 806 theaters.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. & Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are moreover included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday:

1. "The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials," $30.3 million ($43.3 million international).

2. "Black Mass," $23.4 million.

3. "The Visit," $11.3 million.

4. "The Perfect Guy," $9.7 million.

5. "Everest," $7.6 million ($28.2 million international).

6. "War Room," $6.3 million.

7. "A Walk in the Woods," $2.8 million.

8. "Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation," $2.3 million.

9. "Straight Outta Compton," $2 million.

10. "Grandma," $1.6 million.

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Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle at https://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

Source: “Associated Press”