‘Maze Runner’ Leads Box Office for Fox This Weekend

“The Maze Runner,” the latest Hollywood film about young adults caught in a life-or-death nightmare, led the box office in its weekend debut.

The film, from 21st Century Fox Inc., collected $32.5 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales, according to an e-mailed statement yesterday from Rentrak Corp. “A Walk Among the Tombstones,” a thriller from Universal Pictures, placed second with $13.1 million, while a third new release, “This Is Where I Leave You,” captured the No. 3 spot for Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. with $11.9 million.

The so-called teen dystopia films gained attention in 2012 when Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.’s “The Hunger Games” became a surprise hit. That studio followed with “Divergent” and “Ender’s Game,” while others, including Fox, have ventured into the genre.

“At Fox, they should be very pleased,” said Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak senior media analyst, in a telephone interview yesterday. “To have a $32.5 million opening in September is actually really good.”

“The Maze Runner,” based on a young-adult novel by James Dashner, tells the story of a group of boys who find themselves in a glade with a dangerous maze as their only exit.

Smart Decision

“Their decision to create a new franchise based around this very popular series of books was a smart one,” Dergarabedian said. “For every one of these that does well, there are many that don’t. It’s very difficult to tap into that young adult audience and have success.”

“Their gamble paid off,” he said.

“The Maze Runner” was forecast to collect $37 million in its debut, according to BoxOffice.com. It had a budget of $34 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The film received 63 percent positive reviews, according to Rottentomatoes.com, which aggregates critics’ responses.

“‘The Maze Runner’’ puts a refreshingly primitive slant on dystopia,” wrote Sheri Linden in a review for the Los Angeles Times. “Marc Fisichella’s production design is a vivid, earthy rendering of Dashner’s imagined world.”

“A Walk Among the Tombstones” from Comcast Corp.’s Universal stars Liam Neeson and is based on Lawrence Block’s bestselling series of mystery novels. The film cost $28 million to make, according to Box Office Mojo.

Critics logged by Rottentomatoes.com registered 66 percent positive reviews.

“I thought Liam Neeson’s movie would do a bit better,” Dergarabedian said. “This one was rated R, so it came in a little on the lower end of expectations.”

Former Cop

Neeson plays former New York Police Department officer Matt Scudder working as an unlicensed private investigator. He agrees to help a heroin trafficker, played by Dan Stevens, hunt down the men who kidnapped and murdered his wife.

“Nasty, brutal and unforgiving, ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’ is one of those rare contemporary cinematic offerings: intelligent pulp,” wrote Manohla Dargis, in a review for The New York Times.

The film was written and directed by Scott Frank, whose credits include “Get Shorty” and “Minority Report.”

Also making its debut was “This is Where I Leave You,” a comedy from Warner starring Jason Bateman and Tina Fey. The film tells the story of four grown siblings who return to their childhood home after their father dies. The movie also features Jane Fonda and Rose Byrne.

“This Is Where I Leave You” was projected to generate $11.5 million, according to BoxOffice.com. The film cost $20 million to make, the estimate of Box Office Mojo.

“No Good Deed,” a thriller from Sony Corp. starring Idris Elba, returned in its second week to place fourth. It collected $10.2 million.

Weekend sales for the top 10 films rose 30 percent to $91.1 million from a year earlier. Sales for the year to date have fallen 5.5 percent to $7.56 billion.

The following table has U.S. movie box-office figures provided by studios to Rentrak. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales for Sept. 19-20 and estimates for yesterday.

                     Rev.    Pct.             Avg./    Total
   Movie            (mln)    Chg. Theaters  Theater    (mln) Wks
================================================================
 1 Maze Runner      $32.5     --    3,604   $9,018   $ 32.5    1
 2 Walk Tombstones   13.1     --    2,712    4,840     13.1    1
 3 Where I Leave You 11.9     --    2,868    4,135     11.9    1
 4 No Good Deed      10.2    -58    2,175    4,690     40.1    2
 5 Dolphin Tale 2     9.0    -43    3,656    2,463     27.1    2
 6 Guardians Galaxy   5.2    -36    2,846    1,820    313.7    8
 7 Let’s Be Cops      2.7    -39    2,312    1,157     77.2    6
 8 Mutant Turtle      2.7    -45    2,348    1,129    185.0    7
 9 Drop, The          2.1    -50    1,192    1,720      7.7    2
10 If I Stay          1.8    -53    2,371      774     47.7    5

Top 10 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $91.1 $69.8 +30

Year-to-date Revenue

2014 2013 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $7,562 $8,002 -5.5 Source: Rentrak Corp.
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