It’s going to be a Red Planet October. The early fall months are an eclectic time at the movies, with the current top ten being evenly split between animated movies for kids, serious R-rated adult fare, ‘80s-tinged YA awesomeness, and a smattering of other treats. But this weekend belonged to 3D sci-fi popcorn spectacle with a little science thrown in for good measure. Go back two years ago and you get to see people seem to like that kind of thing to kickstart their autumn. Even the threat of a crippling hurricane poised to do damage to most of the Eastern Seaboard couldn’t stop people from heading to the movie theater. It was full of sound and fury signifying nothing for the box office this weekend.
What Won: The Martian
Ridley Scott’s space survival saga was on track to beat Gravity’s $55.7 million October weekend box office record, but fell short. Still, its $55 million opening weekend was enough to put it in the top spot as well as notch the second-highest opening movie for Damon and Scott’s careers, trailing The Bourne Ultimatum and Hannibal respectively. The big win for The Martian tracks nearly hand-in-hand with 2013’s similarly sci-fi minded Gravity, whose grosses never dipped below 50 percent until its 10th week in release. Both are 3D event movies vying for early Oscar notice. Good word-of-mouth and a relative lack of competition at the box office should keep The Martian rolling in dough for at least a few weeks.
What Disappointed: The Walk
The Walk tried to pull one over on audiences this weekend in limited release and stumbled. The movie rolled out in an unorthodox manner, trying to cash in on the vertigo-inducing final scene by only showing on IMAX and large-format screens. But audiences probably suspected what we found when we actually saw the movie, that it’s just a single special effects scene with a fairly boring movie surrounding it. The Walk managed only $1.5 million from more than 400 theaters. For comparison, the mountain climbing thriller Everest opening in a similarly limited method in premium formats and pulled in $7 million. It’s not looking good for Robert Zemeckis’ movie, which is walking a fine line into box office bomb territory. Next weekend it expands to 2,000 theaters, so mere availability might give it the bump it needs to level out.
What Was Surprising: Sicario
Another comparison for The Walk would be director Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario, which also managed a $1.5 million haul last week. It matched the amount of Zemeckis’ movie but did so in 389 fewer theaters. Sicario then expanded this weekend and managed a respectable $12 million for third place. Not too shabby for a relentlessly bleak drug war actioner. If it keeps up the pace it’ll be enough to match Villeneuve’s highest grossing movie, Prisoners, which pulled in over $63 million two years ago.
What You Should Take a Chance On: Horror Movies
It’s October — where’s the horror at? Only two are worth noting until the perennial Paranormal Activity installment is rushed into theaters at the end of the month. We’re big fans of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit and are perfectly smitten with it hogging all of the horror attention till Halloween. The other horror movie out now is Eli Roth’s entry into the vaunted cannibal genre, The Green Inferno. It’s been holding steady, posting a nearly $6 million take so far for a movie whose entire budget was $5 million. Get to the theater to get grossed out.