Fox’s “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” opened solidly with $1.5 million at 2,860 North American locations in Thursday night preview screenings.
The launch compares to the $1.7 million from “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” from 2015 on its way to a $30 million opening. “The Death Cure” will expand to 3,768 sites Friday and should finish the weekend in first in the $20 million range — ending the three-week box office winning streak of Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.”
Dylan O’Brien stars as the lead in the finale of the dystopian trilogy, which saw its opening delayed for a year after he sustained injuries on the set. The 2014 original opened with $32.5 million and grossed $102 million in U.S. receipts, and the 2015 follow-up “The Scorch Trials” tallied $82 million in domestic box office.
Kaya Scodelario and Thomas Brodie-Sangster also star. Wes Ball directed all three films.
Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” has consistently over-performed forecasts on its way to a 36-day domestic total of $320 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 $1.8 million so far. “Hostiles” took in $370,000 from 1,893 sites in Thursday night shows in new locations.
The weekend will show the impact of Tuesday’s Academy Awards nominations announcement. Fox’s “The Post,” which received a Best Picture nod along with Meryl Streep’s 21st Oscar nod, led moviegoing on the following day with $1.2 million at 2,851 venues, lifting its five-week total to $48.5 million. The journalism drama will probably take in around $10 million this weekend.
Fox Searchlight’s “The Shape of Water,” which led with 13 Oscar nominations, is adding nearly 1,000 sites this weekend and will play at 1,840. The fantasy drama has grossed $31.5 million in two months.
Universal’s “Get Out” and Warner Bros. “Dunkirk” are returning to theaters this weekend after taking Best Picture Academy Award nominations. “Get Out” grossed $175 million domestically before leaving multiplexes in July and “Dunkirk” took in $188 million between July and November.
“With the nine Best Picture nominees having generated a combined $575 million in North America and the nominations bounce in full effect, the blockbuster reign of ‘Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle’ will be challenged by ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ that topped comScore’s social media chart this week with over 800,000 conversations to date,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore.