Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
September 23, 2014
Kim Hollis: The Maze Runner, another adaptation of a YA book franchise (but this time targeted to males), earned $32.5 million this weekend to finish at #1 at the box office. What do you think of this result?
Matthew Huntley: I think Maze Runner's opening is impressive for a few reasons. First, it's mid-September, and despite ticket price inflation, it's still relatively uncommon for movies to open this big during the year's ninth month. As we all know, everyone simply has other things on their mind: school, work, football, the upcoming fall season, holidays, etc., so for any film to sell $30 million+ worth of tickets is quite an accomplishments amongst all the other hustle and bustle.
Second, it's become increasingly difficult for Hollywood to reach teenage boys, to whom this movie is geared, outside of the superhero genre, and while the movie/book have a "superhero"-like air to them, the overall premise/concept doesn't exactly scream "breakout hit" like the Marvel movies do, but Fox found a way.
Lastly, the budget for Maze Runner was relatively low (mid-$30 million), which probably means its advertising budget wasn't extremely high, either. With this in mind, the movie capitalized on its source, its positive reviews and, well, itself to entice moviegoers, whom it was able to win over amidst some fairly stiff competition in the form of Liam Neeson. I expect at least a $75-80 million finish.
Edwin Davies: I also think this is a really impressive opening, particularly in relation to the budget. The Maze Runner cost a third of what it cost to make Ender's Game, another sci-fi YA adaptation geared more towards teenage boys, and it opened noticeably higher. Obviously The Maze Runner wasn't held back by the sort of controversy that may have marred Ender's Game, but even if they had opened to exactly the same number, The Maze Runner would be the more impressive result because it nearly covered its production budget after only a few days. Add in its overseas numbers, which point to a global finish in excess of $250 million, and this is a very strong start.
This film was handled much more shrewdly than a lot of similar would-be franchise starters, not only in terms of keeping costs under control, but also in trying to appeal to people outside of the books' fan base. Unless a book is a phenomenon on the scale of Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Fault in Our Stars, you have to make trailers that appeal to people who haven't checked out the books. I think the ads for The Maze Runner did a great job of explaining the premise and selling the mystery in a way that most of the failed YA adaptations (I dare anyone to watch the trailers for Beautiful Creatures or The Mortal Instruments and then explain what the premises of those films are) didn't manage to do.