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It’s a big weekend for Ridley Scott as his much talked about sci-fi film, The Martian, hits theaters. The buzz has been positive and the reviews are looking good, but how will that translate into box office cash? Well, apparently, as analysts are predicting an opening weekend upwards of $45 million. Not a bad debut at the movies.
According to Variety, most of the people in the know have the film pegged somewhere in the $45 million range, though some think it could do as well as $50 million. The studio, 20th Century Fox, is being slightly more conservative, with an estimate closer to $40 million. With a budget of $109 million the movie has some work to do to be profitable, but a box office take like that would be a strong start. If the current positive word of mouth continues from the first weekend of fans who see the movie, it will likely be able to stay strong for the next few weeks, too.
The numbers that we already have access to bear this out. The Martian is currently at the top of Fandango’s sales charts, and according to the online ticket seller, the Matt Damon-starring film is currently outperforming Oscar-winner Gravity at the same point in the sales cycle. The two movies not only share the sci-fi setting and lone survivor theme, but Gravity was even released on the same weekend in 2013, making the comparison about as close to apples to apples as you can get.
Aiding the film’s box office will be the fact there are no other major players competing with it for box office space. Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk is focusing this weekend on IMAX 3D theaters in order to play to the film’s strengths of tightrope walking at extreme altitude, so it won’t conflict with The Martian’s 3,826 theater release. Emily Blunt’s Sicario is opening wide, but on 1,000 fewer screens. That film is expected to do well, especially since it doesn’t have nearly the budget to overcome, but it won’t be fighting over many movie fans with a Ridley Scott science fiction film.
All signs are looking good for Scott, who’s had a tough time at the movies in recent years. His last couple films, The Counselor and Exodus: Gods and Kings, have been both critical and financial bombs. They make Prometheus look great by comparison, and that film also had it’s issues. The Martian is looking to break that slump. This is good since Scott has many more movies planned over the next few years, so we’ll need him on his A game.