‘The Martian’ Back on Top as New Releases Underwhelm at the Box Office

     October 24, 2015


One week before Halloween, the domestic box office is looking kind of scary – especially for new releases. The Last Witch Hunter, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, Jem and the Holograms, and Rock the Kasbah all opened on Friday, along with the nationwide expansion of Steve Jobs. So how did the newbies fare? Considering that only one is expected to remain in the top five over the three-day weekend, the answer is: not well at all.

In fact, the only film that seems to be benefiting in this oversaturated market is The Martian. After ceding first place to Goosebumps last weekend, the Fox release was back on top Monday through Thursday, when it hit $150 million in domestic grosses. Friday was expected to send The Martian down to second or even third place as newer films stepped into the spotlight, but that didn’t happen. As a result, the film is now the surprise box office front-runner entering its fourth weekend in theatres.

If The Martian doesn’t wind up on top, Goosebumps will claim its second consecutive win. Either way, it’s likely to be a very close race. The Martian earned an estimated $4.35 million on Friday and should claim just under $15 million this weekend. Goosebumps is also tracking in the $14-$15 million range after earning $3.9 million yesterday.

the-last-witch-hunter-poster-dieselPrior to its opening, The Last Witch Hunter was also expected to earn at least $15 million this weekend – a projection based largely on the appeal of star Vin Diesel. But on its first day in theatres, the action fantasy pic took in a reported $3.8 million, which suggests that Diesel’s appeal has its limits. Paired with a B- CinemaScore and terrible reviews, Friday’s estimate should limit The Last Witch Hunter to a $9 million debut.

Though it wasn’t far behind The Last Witch Hunter on Friday, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension looks like it will wind up with less than $8 million through Sunday. That’s well below expectations, especially considering that the Paranormal Activity franchise used to dominate the pre-Halloween frame, not so very many years ago. On the other hand, Paramount went with an unusual release pattern for the sixth PA feature. The film launched in just 1,656 locations on Friday, with VOD following as soon as that theatre count drops to 300 – not too long if this weekend is any indicator.

Of course the biggest box office news of the week concerned a movie that has yet to be released. As you undoubtedly know, tickets for Star Wars: The Force Awakens went on sale on Monday, breaking pre-sale records ($6.5 million for IMAX alone) and overwhelming servers on sites like Fandango. And that’s just a preview of the box office goodness that 2015’s final months have to offer!

For now, we’re still stuck parsing October’s dregs. We’ll have full details on said dregs on Sunday, including the laughably low openings of Jem and the Holograms and Rock the Kasbah. Both films opened in more locations than The Ghost Dimension on Friday but neither managed to hit $550,000.

Here’s Friday’s top five films, according to studio estimates:

 Title Friday Total
1.  The Martian $4,350,000 $154.8
2.  Goosebumps $3,950,000 $32.16
3.  The Last Witch Hunter $3,800,000 $3.8
4.  Bridge of Spies $3,324,000 $24.5
5.  Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension $3,300,000 $3.3

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