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Box Office: ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ Races Toward $20 Million Opening

Fox’s launch of “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” is poised to end the three-week box office reign of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” with about $20 million at about 3,800 North American locations.

The action thriller has already opened impressively in four markets overseas, starting with South Korea, Australia, and Taiwan taking in $15 million during its first weekend. The movie’s original release date was delayed for nearly a year in order to allow star Dylan O’Brien to recover from injuries sustained during shooting.

O’Brien stars in the dystopian trilogy as Thomas. The 2014 original opened with $32.5 million and grossed $102 million in U.S. receipts, and 2015 follow-up “The Scorch Trials” opened with $30 million and tallied $82 million in domestic box office. Kaya Scodelario and Thomas Brodie-Sangster also star. Wes Ball directed all three films.

The finale sees a group of escapees attempting to break into the legendary Last City in order to save their friends. Most international markets will be this week, though Germany, Italy, Mexico, and France will open in February.

Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” has consistently over-performed forecasts on its way to a 33-day domestic total of $316.5 million, along with $450 million internationally. It’s likely to take in somewhere in the $12 million to $15 million range in North America in its sixth weekend.

Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures is expanding “Hostiles,” starring Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike, to about 2,850 locations from 49. The historical drama, which opened on Dec. 22, has grossed $1.3 million so far, is pegged to finish in the $12 million range.

The film, directed by Scott Cooper from his own script, had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival. ESMP acquired the movie in October from producer Ken Kao’s Waypoint Entertainment. The film, set in 1892, stars Bale as a captain who agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief (Wes Studi) and his family back home to tribal lands.

The weekend will also see an array of awards contenders attempting to take advantage of Tuesday’s announcement of Oscar nominations, led by Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” which picked up 13 nominations. Fox Searchlight has seen $30 million domestically from “The Shape of Water,” which was playing last weekend at 853 North American sites. It’s expected that “Shape” will add several hundred locations.

Fox’s “The Post,” which received a best picture nomination and a best actress nod for Meryl Streep, has been playing in wide release for the past two weekends and has grossed more than $45 million.

Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me by Your Name” landed four nods. Sony Classics has earned $9.1 million in two months of release with 815 venues screening the coming-of-age story last weekend.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread,” which scored six Oscar nominations, saw a major expansion last weekend to 896 sites and will increase to 1,015 venues. The fashion drama finished 12th with $3.2 million to lift its four-week total to $6.1 million.

Searchlight’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” has already grossed $32 million in three months and finished in 17th place last weekend with $1.9 million at 954 sites. It took home seven Academy Award nominations.

Focus Features’ “Darkest Hour” received six Oscar nominations with Gary Oldman pegged as the front-runner in the best actor category. The World War II drama grossed $2.7 million at 1,341 North American venues last weekend to lift its nine-week total to $40.8 million.

A24’s “Lady Bird,” which earned five Oscar nominations, has earned nearly $40 million domestically after three months. It grossed $1.2 million at 695 venues last weekend.

Neon-30West’s “I, Tonya” came in 14th last weekend with $2.9 million at 799 locations for a seven-week total of nearly $15 million. The dark comedy received three nominations Tuesday, including best actress for Margot Robbie and supporting actress for Allison Janney.

The Oscar bounce can be substantial for specialty films, such as A24’s “Moonlight,” which had grossed $15.9 million when was nominated for eight Academy Awards. “Moonlight,” which won best picture, earned an additional $12 million by the end of its run.

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