'Maze Runner 2' to beat Johnny Depp 'Black Mass'
The 20th Century Fox release Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, the sequel to the 2014 hit The Maze Runner, and Warner Bros.' Johnny Depp star vehicle Black Mass will be battling it out at the North American box office this coming weekend, Sept. 18-20, the last (astronomical) summer weekend of 2015.
According to Variety, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials will “likely” end up at the top of the U.S. and Canada box office chart. In fact, more than just “likely,” in case tracking is on target. Including Thursday evening shows, Maze Runner 2 is expected to collect somewhere around $35 million from 3,790 sites, while Black Mass should take in $22 million or so from 3,188 theaters.
'Maze Runner 2' vs. 'The Maze Runner'
Maze Runner 2 will then open only about 10 percent ahead of the original, which debuted with $32.51 million from 3,604 sites at the same time frame last year.
Directed by Wes Ball and toplining Dylan O'Brien (The Internship) and Kaya Scodelario (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales), The Maze Runner went on to gross $102.42 million in North America, in addition to $238.32 million internationally, for a worldwide grand total of $340.75 million. The film cost a reported $34 million, not including marketing and distribution expenses.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials opened in a number of overseas territories last weekend, having already collected $30.48 million, as found at Box Office Mojo. The sequel's production budget reportedly stood at a more generous $61 million.
'Maze Runner 2' cast
Besides Dylan O'Brien and Kaya Scodelario, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials features:
Thomas Brodie-Sangster. Patricia Clarkson. Giancarlo Esposito. Aidan Gillen. Ki Hong Lee. Barry Pepper. Lili Taylor. Alexander Flores. Dexter Darden. Jacob Lofland. Rosa Salazar. Terry Dale Parks. Kathryn Smith-McGlynn. Alan Tudyk.
Screenplay by T.S. Nowlin from James Dashner's sci-fi / thriller novel.
To date, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials has a mediocre 50 percent approval rating and a 5.5/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. But this variation on The Hunger Games' dystopian setting should be critics-proof – at least on its opening weekend.
'Black Mass' to mark Johnny Depp critical and box office comeback?
The expected domestic opening of the R-rated Black Mass, in which a heavily made-up Johnny Depp plays real-life, Irish-American Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, is an acceptable – though hardly sensational – figure.
What may help Black Mass are solid reviews and good word of mouth, so the film can develop long legs throughout the fall season. Whether that'll happen remains to be seen.
With nine reviews so far, Black Mass has a (at first glance impressive) 78 percent approval rating – but only 6.4/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics.
'The Departed': Boston mafia was solid box office back in 2006
For comparison's sake: Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Vera Farmiga, and Mark Wahlberg, Martin Scorsese's $90 million-budgeted Boston mafia gangster drama The Departed, which eventually took home the Best Picture Academy Award, opened with $26.88 million (approx. $34.5 million today) at 3,017 locations back in early Oct. 2006.
The Departed went on to gross $132.38 million in North America, in addition to $157.46 million internationally. Worldwide grand total: $289.84 million.
Fast-dimming Johnny Depp box office clout
So, could Black Mass do for Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp's box office standing what Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman did for former Batman star Michael Keaton's box office standing?
Well, to begin with, Best Picture Oscar and Best Actor Oscar nomination or no, Michael Keaton's box office clout remains virtually unchanged after Birdman.
As for the $53 million-budgeted Black Mass, it could theoretically earn Depp his fourth Best Actor nomination. Besides, the political crime thriller will surely outperform (at least in relative terms) Depp's spate of domestic box office disasters going all the way back to 2010: Mortdecai, Transcendence, The Lone Ranger, Dark Shadows, The Rum Diary, The Tourist. But that's really not saying much.
A couple recent Johnny Depp box office bombs:
- “'The Lone Ranger': Johnny Depp in costly Disney flop.”
- “'The Rum Diary': Johnny Depp Biggest 'Very Wide Release' Box-Office Flop?”
'Black Mass' movie cast
In addition to Johnny Depp as FBI darling Whitey Bulger, Black Mass features:
Joel Edgerton. Benedict Cumberbatch. Dakota Johnson. Kevin Bacon. Peter Sarsgaard. Jesse Plemons. Rory Cochrane. David Harbour. Adam Scott. Corey Stoll. Julianne Nicholson. W. Earl Brown. Bill Camp. Juno Temple. Mark Mahoney. Brad Carter. Scott Anderson. Erica McDermott. Luke Ryan. Owen Burke. Lewis D. Wheeler. David De Beck. David Conley.
Black Mass was directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) from a screenplay credited to Mark Mallouk (executive producer on Everest) and Jez Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow, Fair Game), itself based on Gerard O'Neill and Dick Lehr's book.
More box office predictions: 'Everest,' 'Sicario'
As found in Variety, Baltasar Kormákur's Everest, opening in limited release, is expected to score $5 million, while Robert Zemeckis' The Walk, covering the same ground as James Marsh's 2008 Academy Award winner Man on Wire, should take in about the same amount. A French-accented Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as wire-walking man Philippe Petit.
Geared to the “faith-based” crowd – i.e., Fundamentalist Christians, apparently the only “faith” in the United States as far as U.S. filmmakers and film-related media are concerned – Jerry Jameson's thriller Captive is expected to collect $2 million from 800 sites. David Oyelowo (Selma) and Kate Mara (Fantastic Four) star. (Captive, I should add, isn't a remake of Atom Egoyan's 2014 mystery thriller The Captive, featuring Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, and Bruce Greenwood.)
And finally, Sicario – about the drug trade at the U.S. / Mexico border and the United States' disastrous “war on drugs” – opens at six locations in New York and Los Angeles. Early estimates for this platform release reminiscent of Steven Soderbergh's Traffic haven't been made available. Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Traffic Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro star for director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies).
Jack Nicholson as Whitey Bulger
 Bear in mind that not infrequently, Box Office Mojo's “cume” international figures are incomplete.
Johnny Depp Oscar nominations
 For the record, Johnny Depp's three Best Actor Academy Award nominations were for the following movies:
- Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003).
Winner: Sean Penn for Mystic River.
- Marc Forster's Finding Neverland (2004).
Winner: Jamie Foxx for Ray.
- Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007).
Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood.
Maze Runner 2: The Scorch Trials Dylan O'Brien image: 20th Century Fox.
Joel Edgerton and Johnny Depp Black Mass image: Warner Bros., via People magazine.