Box Office: ‘The Martian’ Rockets to $18 Million Opening Day

Ridley Scott’s latest sci-fi endeavor “The Martian” lifted off with $18 million in Friday receipts, suggesting it will finish its opening weekend with a total of over $50 million, according to studio estimates.

The 20th Century Fox release, which stars Matt Damon as a stranded astronaut attempting to survive alone on Mars, bowed in 2,800 locations Thursday night to $2.5 million. The pic, which was made on a budget of $109 million, expanded to 3,826 locations on Friday. Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jeff Daniels also star in “The Martian,” which is drawing praise for its optimism, something of a novelty in the space-exploration genre.

Based on Andy Weir’s novel, “The Martian” is on track to join the ranks of high-grossing October releases. Current top-dog “Gravity,” which launched on the same weekend in 2013, is the one to beat with its $55.8 million haul, followed by 2011’s “Paranormal Activity 3” with $52.6 million, 2010’s “Jackass 3D” with $50.4 million and 2013’s “Taken 2” with $49. 5 million. “Gravity” pulled in $17.5 million on its opening day.

Also playing this weekend is drug cartel drama “Sicario,” which opened wide Friday to $4 million in 2,620 locations. The Lionsgate release is tracking for a 3-day total of $11 million. Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro star.

“Hotel Transylvania 2,” which topped the box office last weekend with $48.5 million (and set a record for the biggest September opening ever), is expected to pull in $28 million for Sony. Adam Sandler stars in the animated sequel.

Robert Zemeckis’ “The Walk,” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as high-wire enthusiast Philippe Petit, opened on Imax and large-format screens on Wednesday in anticipation of its Oct. 9 wide release. The Sony release should pull in $2-3 million by the end of the weekend.

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