Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
September 22, 2015
Kim Hollis: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials earned $30.3 million this weekend. What do you think of this result?
Edwin Davies: This is fine and in line with what we've seen from other non-Hunger Games, non-Twilight YA adaptations. It seems that unless the first film becomes a pop culture phenomenon that makes people sit up and take notice, then these films struggle to break out beyond the core audience of book readers. That pattern occurred here, where the first film did pretty well on a relatively low budget, but if you asked people to name the cast members or their characters, most would give blank stares (as opposed to what happened with Twilight and The Hunger Games, where even people who had never seen the films would probably be able to say Bella or Edward or Katniss). The one downside is that Scorch Trials cost twice as much as The Maze Runner, but it's also looking to make more overseas than the first film, so it'll come out okay in the end.
Jason Barney: I think this opening is just fine, although you have to think the execs were hoping for a little bit larger opening. I don't mean to say this should have been a breakout, but with the nearly doubling of the budget, the studio was probably looking for a little expansion over the original. The money made in the states will approach the $100 million mark. That more than takes care of the $61 million dollar budget. If the studio was hoping for a modest expansion on the domestic front, they will be hoping the same for internationally. That will probably happen, but those numbers are a few weeks away. All in all this opening is just fine.
Ben Gruchow: I'm inclined to gravitate toward this being not particularly fine, if only because tracking was looking for this to open significantly higher than it did (I seem to remember expectations in the high 40s all the way up to an over-optimistic low-50s). Even the post-preview numbers seem to have been a little lower than analysts were expecting on Friday, since the Thursday-night screenings outdid the first film.
I absolutely agree that the trend among YA adaptations indicates a static amount that goes to see each film, with none of the sequels being able to build on the audience. That shouldn't be a surprise, I guess; the Harry Potter series settled into a $290-$300 million domestic groove only a couple of years before the Twilight series did. Hunger Games sold more tickets, but its sequels have been just as static. Scorch Trials opened lower than the original, but it was consistently lower, across the weekend. It'll be interesting to see what the final multiplier for the movie ends up at.
Ryan Kyle: This is a pretty disappointing opening. The original started off with $32.5 million and had surprisingly strong legs, crossing $100 million. While the $30.3 million start for this go-around isn't far off and due to the non-IMAX release this time, attendance is probably pretty comparable without the inflated premium ticket prices. However, sequels are usually more front-loaded and due to the slow burn success of the first, the opening here should have been bigger. Given that the budget was doubled to $60 million and the theater count in a wider 3,791 locations (almost 200 more than the first), expectations were obviously loftier. Plus, competition for the YA-audience is pretty non-existent.
We usually complain about sequels not being differentiated enough from the original, but I feel as if the problem here is that Scorch Trials came off too different. The first Maze Runner was an adventure-thriller, while this go-around was a zombie flick. Also, critics and audiences were less thrilled with what they saw on screen looking at the reviews. A third chapter is imminent; however, Fox is probably scrutinizing the budget a little closer after this weekend.