‘The Martian’ Returns to Top the Box Office in Fourth Frame

     October 25, 2015

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At this time yesterday it looked like box office honors might go to either The Martian or Goosebumps. The latter would seem to have the edge on the last weekend before Halloween but, as it turned out, The Martian was destined for a comeback. The Ridley Scott drama claimed an estimated $15.9 million (-25%) and its third first place title.

It’s not common for a film, once knocked out of the top spot, to make its way back so late in its run – but it does happen. Guardians of the Galaxy also reclaimed first place in its fourth frame, as did The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, in 2005. How to Train Your Dragon rebounded in its fifth frame, after three weeks out of the spotlight. That puts The Martian in some pretty rarified company but, based on box office grosses alone, it still trails Gravity by about 16%.

As for Goosebumps, last weekend’s number one movie was down 34% in its sophomore frame. That’s a strong hold that should have guaranteed another first place win had the PG-rated horror pic opened a bit closer to initial expectations. One of this weekend’s best holds (along with The Martian and the expansion of Steve Jobs) belonged to Bridge of Spies. On its second frame, the cold war drama was down just 26% for a ten-day total of $32.58 million.

After earning this year’s best per-theatre average two weeks ago, Steve Jobs is now playing nationwide. The Universal biopic expanded to 2,493 locations and claimed an estimated $7.27 million. That’s a 380% increase over last weekend, when Jobs was still in 60 theatres. Unfortunately, most projections had the Oscar hopeful closer to $12 million in its first wide frame, which makes this a disappointment despite the triple digit jump.


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Image via Vin Diesel

Fortunately, this weekend’s box office had more than enough disappointment to go around. First among the disheartened is Lionsgate’s The Last Witch Hunter, starring Vin Diesel. Coming off the blockbuster Furious 7, Diesel’s presence was expected to carry Witch Hunter to a first-place finish with over $15 million. Instead, the film earned an estimated $10.8 from 3,082 locations – the lowest debut for a Diesel wide-release since 2008’s Babylon A.D. Then again, yesterday it looked like Witch Hunter would come in lower than $10 million, so it could have been worse.

There was a time, not so long ago, when the pre-Halloween weekend was owned by the Paranormal Activity franchise. Beginning in 2010, with Paranormal Activity 2, the PA series took top honors at the box office for three consecutive years – reaching its zenith in 2011 when Paranormal Activity 3 opened with $52.5 million. But as this weekend’s Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension so aptly proves, that’s ancient history now.

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Image via USA Today

Ghost Dimension earned an estimated $8.2 million from 1,656 locations. That beats the $7.9 million the original Paranormal Activity claimed on its third frame – though that was in just 160 locations at the time. The last PA feature, The Marked Ones, opened with $18.2 million in January 2014, but in much wider release. The plan with the sixth PA feature was to offer a VOD option soon after its debut – the nightmare of many theatre operators.


If the box office considered The Last Witch Hunter and PA6 disappointments, there are no words to describe the openings of Rock the Kasbah and Jem and the Holograms. Don’t check the top ten chart. You won’t find these films there. At number 13 this weekend, Open Road’s Rock the Kasbah, with Bill Murray, earned a reported $1.5 million from 2,012 locations. That’s an all-time low for both studio and star, based on theatre count. It’s also the fifth worst debut ever for a movie in at least 2,000 venues.

Coincidentally, Jem and the Holograms now ranks one place above Kasbah on the very same chart. Based on the Hasbro dolls of the 1980s (and the animated TV series that sold them) the Universal-distributed live-action pic came in at number 15 this weekend, earning an estimated $1.32 million from 2,413 locations. In another coincidence, Jem and the Holograms was produced by Jason Blum, the horror impresario who rose to prominence thanks to the Paranormal Activity franchise. Known as the producer that turns low budgets into big profits (most recently with The Visit), Blum has the distinction of being associated with two of this weekend’s four potential flops.

Overall box office grosses were down 10% from 2014, when Ouija (another Hasbro/Jason Blum/Universal release) was on top with $19.8 million. With Halloween taking next Saturday largely out of play, expect another depressing frame next weekend. None the three new releases (Burnt, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Our Brand is Crisis) is expected to hit $10 million, so maybe The Martian can get comfy for a while? We’ll let you know what happens.

 Title Weekend Total
1.  The Martian $15,900,000 $166.3
2.  Goosebumps $15,500,000 $43.7
3.  Bridge of Spies $11,365,000 $32.5
4.  The Last Witch Hunter $10,825,000 $10.8
5.  Hotel Transylvania 2 $9,000,000 $148.2
6.  Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension $8,200,000 $8.2
7.  Steve Jobs $7,270,000 $9.98
8.  Crimson Peak $5,560,000 $22.45
9.  The Intern $3,855,000 $62.7
10.  Sicario $2,950,000 $39.3

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