The young adult book adaptation “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” took first place at the domestic box office this past weekend, while “Black Mass,” which stars actor Johnny Depp as criminal James “Whitey” Bulger, placed second.
“Maze” is based on the book of the same name by author James Dashner and is a sequel to the 2014 film “The Maze Runner.” The first movie in the series performed well at this same time last year.
Now “Scorch” has grossed more than $30 million in its opening weekend. That’s a little less than the first movie made in its opening weekend, with “The Maze Runner” having taken in more than $32 million domestically, but not a huge decrease.
Meanwhile, “Mass” grossed more than $23 million to come in second place at the domestic box office this weekend. The movie has a strong supporting cast, with turns by actors including Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Peter Sarsgaard, and moviegoers were no doubt curious to see the performance by Depp, which received rave reviews from many critics. The performance of “Mass” compares favorably to the opening of Depp’s last film, “Mortdecai,” a misfire that took in only about $4 million in its debut weekend.
M. Night Shyamalan’s horror movie “The Visit,” which was a holdover from the week before, took third place with more than $11 million and the thriller “The Perfect Guy,” also in its second week, grossed more than $9 million. The new movie “Everest,” which opened this weekend on various IMAX and other large-format theaters and will open in other locations next weekend, came in fifth with more than $7 million.
The success of “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” may represent a new role for young adult dystopian franchises: slow and steady performer. Compared to the opening weekend gross of more than $121 million for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” “Scorch” is a small-time success.
It’s a closer comparison to the performance of the newest “Divergent” film, “Insurgent,” which opened with a domestic gross of more than $52 million. The movie “The 5th Wave,” which is also based on a young adult dystopian novel, opens this January and could perform similarly. Books like “The Maze Runner” and “The 5th Wave” were bestsellers but had nothing like the pop culture dominance of “Hunger.”
In addition, it will be interesting to see whether “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” continues to draw in what one would assume to be its target audience: young moviegoers. Dark premises for these dystopian tales are nothing new – the whole premise of the “Hunger Games” movies is that young children are forced to battle to the death – but some critics were taken aback by the intensity of some of the plot developments in “Scorch.” One movie reviewer wrote that the movie has “several surprisingly brutal moments” and another noted that some of the teens in the film are the subject of “heinous experiments.”
A third movie in the “Maze” series is already planned – “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” is set to be released in February 2017.