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Box office report: 'Maze Runner' reaps $32.5 million in a successful debut

On Friday morning, first-time feature director Wes Ball was sweating bullets. His debut film was opening and he was nervous despite the early positive numbers that were already flooding into the box office reporters. “I just don’t want anything to go wrong,” said the young filmmaker in an interview for Entertainment Weekly Radio.

Well, clearly nothing has gone awry with the director’s first entre into feature filmmaking.

For the male-populated young adult adaptation of James Dashner’s best-selling novel The Maze Runner racked up an estimated $32.5 million for a first-place finish, giving Twentieth Century Fox all the necessary reasons to push forward on the sequel–which is in already in pre-production in New Mexico and is set to start shooting in the next six weeks.

The film scored an A- with audiences, according to exit pollster CinemaScore. Though the sci-fi flick was thought to appeal primarily to boys due to its all-male cast (led by Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien), girls came out in droves to watch the Lord of the Flies-like scenario play out. In fact, females–under 25–dominated the movie-going audience for this film at 51%.

The rest of the new releases didn’t fare as well.

The Liam Neeson-starrer A Walk Among the Tombstones grossed an estimated $13.1 million for the three-day frame, not great for what could have been the start to a franchise based on the Lawrence Block’s series of novels about private investigator Matthew Scudder. The ultra-violent R-rated pic didn’t score well with critics or audiences, who gave it a B- according to CinemaScore. The movie also bowed well below Neeson’s most recent actioners like Non-Stop, which opened to $28.8 million, or The Grey, which bowed to $19 million.

Third place for the weekend went to the family R-rated dramedy This is Where I Leave You, an adaptation of the Jonathan Tropper novel of the same name. A likeable cast led by Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Jane Fonda coupled with a B+ CinemaScore from audiences would have suggested a robust bow. However, adults just didn’t come out to the theater, putting the wide release’s total at an estimated $11.9 million–beneath even what the studio was estimating for the weekend.

The rest of the weekend’s top five was dominated by holdovers. The Idris Elba, Taraji Henson-starrer No Good Deed earned an additional $10.2 million for the weekend, putting its total cume at an estimated $40.1 million. And family flick Dolphin Tale 2, starring Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman (can you say paycheck movie), grossed an estimated $9 million, putting its two-week total at $27 million.

Outside of the top five, Guardians of the Galaxy just won’t quit. The runaway success from Marvel added another $5 million to its astounding cume of $313 million, surpassing Iron Man 2’s ultimate domestic gross. Fox Searchlight’s The Drop, starring Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini (in his last role), grossed an additional $2 million as the studio added close to 400 theaters to its box-office run. The film, from Bullhead director Michael Roskam, now has a cume that stands at $7.6 million.

In the limited new release arena Simon Pegg’s whimsical film Hector and the Search for Happiness earned an estimated $46,000 in four theaters while The Weinstein Co.’s limited release of Tracks, the Mia Wasikowska-starrer about Australian adventurer Robyn Davidson, grossed $21,000 in its four theaters. Kevin Smith’s latest, Tusk, grossed a paltry $886,000 in its 602 theaters.

Top Five Films of the Weekend:

The Maze Runner– $32.5 million

A Walk Among the Tombstones — $13.1 million

This is Where I Leave You — $11.9 million

No Good Deed — $10.2 million (Total gross stands at $40.1 million)

Dolphin Tale 2 — $9 million (Total gross stands at $27 million)



The hidden family heartache behind director Shawn Levy's 'This Is Where I Leave You'

Shawn Levy is what happens when someone who has never forgotten what it means to be a boy becomes a dad.

The director of Real Steel, the Night at the Museum movies, and the new bittersweet family comedy This Is Where I Leave You (in theaters now), is an undeniable family guy. The father of four girls, he’s known for making movies about households run amok (2003’s Cheaper By the Dozen) and parents who desperately want an evening away (2010’s Date Night,) as well as fathers who redeem themselves in their kids’ eyes with the help of boxing robots or magical museums.

At 46, he looks like he should still be carded when buying a six-pack, and he has the irrepressible energy of a teenager who hasn’t yet hit the surly stage.

Having built a career on high-concept visual effects movies and straight-up comedies, the filmmaker has been yearning to do something a little more grown-up. That brought him to This Is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper’s 2009 novel about quarreling siblings (Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, and Adam Driver) who are all drawn back home after a family death. Their pushy mother (Jane Fonda) wants them not only to bury their father, but a few hatchets as well.

Here’s what Levy (pictured at far right in the photo above) had to say about growing up as a filmmaker … READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Maze Runner' rakes in $11 million Friday

The Maze Runner, the new YA adaptation that hit theaters Friday, chalked up an estimated $11 million for a first-place finish, proving that this over-saturated genre has life left in it yet. Populated with a slew of handsome young male actors led by Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien, The Maze Runner, based on the popular best-selling novel by James Dashner, is on track to pull in close to $30 million. (That’s far better than The Giver, which opened in August to $12 million.) And with Twentieth Century Fox already deep into pre-production on the film’s sequel, the early numbers have to come as a welcome relief for the studio.

Things aren’t so rosy for the other new releases opening this weekend. Universal Pictures bowed the latest Liam Neeson-starrer A Walk Among the Tombstones in wide release, hoping to lure in the reliable Neeson fan base. But the ultra-violent R-rated drama from writer/director Scott Frank earned only an estimated $4.7 million Friday, for a likely finish in second place around $15 million — far lower than Neeson’s recent outings.

The final new wide release of the bunch, Shawn Levy’s star-studded This is Where I Leave You, doesn’t seem to have the allure Warner Bros. was hoping for. Sure, the family dramedy starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Jane Fonda cost only $20 million, but the studio has been marketing it as a very big movie, trying to lure in discerning adult moviegoers. But middling reviews for the movie haven’t helped its box office chances. The R-rated movie grossed an estimated $3.9 million Friday for an estimated three-day finish of $11 million.

The rest of the top five should be filled out by last weekend’s holdovers, with the Idris Elba-starrer No Good Deed filling the fourth spot. The PG-13 rated thriller earned an estimated $2.95 million on Friday for a cume of $32.9 million. Finally, the family flick Dolphin Tale 2 grossed an additional $2.14 million Friday, putting its total at $20.2 million.

1. Maze Runner — $11 million

2. A Walk Among the Tombstones — $4.7 million

3. This is Where I Leave You — $3.9 million

4. No Good Deed — $2.95 million

5. Dolphin Tale 2 — $2.14 million

Check back here tomorrow morning for a full weekend report.


Casting Net: Anthony Hopkins cast in 'Go With Me,' Annabelle Wallis joins 'Mine'

• Anthony Hopkins has been cast in Go With Me. The film comes from helmer Daniel Alfredson, whom Hopkins worked with on Kidnapping Freddy Heineken. Adapted from the 2008 novel by Castle Freeman Jr., the story follows a young woman who is harassed by cop-turned-crimelord Blackway upon returning home in the Pacific Northwest. Rather than leave, she seeks the help of ex-logger (Hopkins) and his right-hand man to fight back. Joe Gangemi and Gregory Jacobs are adapting the novel for the screen. A joint production, Rick Dugdale is producing for Enderby Entertainment alongside Lindsay Williams and Ellen Goldsmith-Vein for The Gotham Group. Hopkins will produce with Jacobs as well. The film will shoot in British Columbia, Canada beginning in mid-November. [Deadline]

• British actress Annabelle Wallis is joining Armie Hammer in Mine. The psychological thriller comes from writer-directors Fabio Guaglione and Fabio Resinaro. The story follows Mike (Hammer), a soldier who is stranded in the desert following a failed assassination attempt. Wallis will play Mike’s girlfriend, Jenny. His want to repair their complicated relationship helps him persevere through the psychological and physical dangers of his situation. Peter Safran is producing via The Safran Company. Production begins this month in the Canary Islands. [Deadline]

• Oakes Fegley (This is Where I Leave You) and Oona Laurence (Broadway’s Matilda the Musical) have signed on for Disney’s remake of Pete’s Dragon. David Lowery will direct. Lowery and Toby Halbrooks wrote the script. The original 1977 film followed Pete and his best friend, a dragon named Elliot. In the remake, Fegley will take the titular role of Pete, and Laurence will portray a new character, Natalie, who is also friends with Pete. The film will be live-action, albeit CGI used for the dragon. Though the original was a musical, the remake will likely be a straight narrative. Jim Whitaker is producing. [Variety]

Critical Mass: Can 'The Maze Runner' find a way out of the YA wilderness?

Expectations for The Maze Runner, the latest YA best-seller turned franchise wannabe, seemed low, so much so that critical faint praise suddenly feels like a ringing endorsement. “Don’t let that YA tag put you off,” says EW’s Chris Nashawaty, in his review. “There isn’t a dying heroine or hunky vampire to be found anywhere in this better-than-average adaptation of the James Dashner bestseller. Just a bunch of confused kids on the run from a mysterious organization known as W.C.K.D.

Based on Dashner’s 2007 post-apocalyptic novel, the first chapter of a trilogy that includes The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure, The Maze Runner is about a Lord of the Flies community of teen boys called Gladers who are trapped in a maze by unclimbable walls and lethal, giant spider-like creatures called Grievers. Each month, another boy is deposited within the walls, with no memory of his life before that moment besides his name. But when Thomas (Teen Wolf‘s Dylan O’Brien) arrives, his ability as a Runner to safely navigate the maze opens the possibility for escape and the answers behind their mysterious incarceration.

Will Poulter (We’re the Millers) plays Gally, the tribe’s enforcer who’s suspicious of Thomas’ gifts, and Kaya Scodelario (The Skins) plays the pretty girl—the only girl—who’s dropped into their midst and has clues about Thomas’s past. First-time director Wes Ball, a visual-effects guru who was hired on the basis of an 8-minute short titled Ruin, has seemingly accomplished his mission: The Maze Runner is no Beautiful Creatures or The Host. Thomas could live to run another day.

Read more from EW’s review, as well as a roundup of other notable critics, below. READ FULL STORY

'Star Wars' writer will script Mark Millar's 'Starlight' movie

Further evidence that we are cusping on a space-movie renaissance: Fox has just assigned a writer to work on an adaptation of Starlight, the retro-flavored space-operatic comic book written by Kick-Ass creator Mark Millar. The Starlight miniseries only began its run in March, and wrapped in October, but Fox was developing the film even before the first issue arrived in stores. Fox is also producing the upcoming Millar adaptation Kingsman: The Secret Service. READ FULL STORY

Watch the trailer for 'Low Down,' about pianist Joe Albany


During the jazz scene of the 1960’s and 1970’s, pianist Joe Albany struggled with drug addiction. His struggle was then captured by the memoir of his daughter, Amy-Jo Albany.

Now, Jeff Preiss is capturing it all on film. Starring John Hawkes as Joe and Elle Fanning as Amy-Jo, Low Down tells the pianist’s story through the eyes of his daughter. The film also stars Glenn Close, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, and more.


Another John Green story is headed to the big screen


John Green fans rejoice: more of The Fault in Our Stars author’s material is heading to the big screen. Universal has optioned the rights to Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances, a short story collection Green wrote with fellow YA writers Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. The book consists of three, interrelated stories, all taking place at Christmastime. Johnson wrote the first story, The Jubilee Express; Green wrote the second, A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle; and Myracle the third, The Patron Saint of Pigs. The stories feature new romances, cheerleaders, and trips to Waffle House. This could end up a sort of Love Actually for the teen set.

Green tweeted:

Johnson added her relief that the news is out.

Earlier this week the adaptation of Green’s Paper Towns found its female lead. A film based on his Looking for Alaska is also in the works. 

Joe Lynch talks about Fantastic Fest and his Salma Hayek film 'Everly'


Who on earth would set a high-octane, high-body count, bulletfest of an action movie in a single room? The answer is director Joe Lynch. The filmmaker’s new film, Everly, stars Salma Hayek as a prostitute who must kill a small army of assassins sent to murder her at an apartment by a yakuza crime boss. At Christmas.


Angelina Jolie signs on to direct biopic 'Africa'

Angelina Jolie has only just offered a first look at her next project By the Sea, and her upcoming biopic Unbroken hasn’t yet hit theaters. But already the busy actor/writer/producer/director has lined up her next project.


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