'Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials' tops Johnny Depp's 'Black Mass'

'Scorch,' which is the second movie in the 'Maze Runner' movie series, took in more than $30 million at the domestic box office this past weekend. The movies star Dylan O'Brien and Kaya Scodelario.

Richard Foreman, Jr./20th Century Fox/AP
'Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials' stars Dylan O'Brien (center), Rosa Salazar (r.), and Jenny Gabrielle (l.).

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.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.