Instead, Ridley Scott's "The Martian" won the weekend race with a better-than-expected $37 million from 3,854 locations after declining a mere 32% in its second outing for a domestic total of $108.7 million. The space epic, starring Matt Damon, also continued to dazzle overseas, earning another $58.1 million from 74 markets for an early foreign total of $119 million and global total of $227.7 million.
Among new markets, "The Martian" earned a massive $12.1 million in South Korea, the largest Fox opening of all time and an industry best for the month of October. In Germany, it opened to $7.1 million, two times larger than "Gravity" and 27 percent ahead of "Interstellar."
In the U.S., "Pan" even got beat by Sony's rival family offering "Hotel Transylvania 2," which took in $20.3 million from 3,768 theaters in its third weekend for a North American total of $116.8 million.
In short, families didn't show much interest in Wright's Peter Pan origins tale, starring Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara, Garrett Hedlund and newcomer Levi Miller. The film received scathing reviews and a B+ CinemaScore from audiences. Warners has had a tough ride at the box office this year, and "Pan" furthers its woes after box-office losers "Jupiter Ascending" and "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." The studio declined official comment on "Pan," but one distribution source said "the movie failed to bring in an audience of any size."
Originally, the live-action family title was set to open this past July and be a prominent summer player, but Warners knew there were problems and pushed its release back at the eleventh hour, saying reshoots were needed. The film is a special-effects extravaganza, with virtually no real sets.
"Pan" hopes to make up ground overseas, where it opened in numerous major markets this weekend. And it rolls out in China October 22. Unless it does big business internationally, Warners is facing a steep loss. So far, returns are muted. The film earned $4.1 million Friday for an early foreign total of $11 million, including $4.3 million in Australia, where it opened two weekends ago.
"Pan" isn't the isn't the only high-profile movie that struggled.
Robert Zemeckis' "The Walk" expanded nationwide Friday into more than 2,500 locations after debuting to a muted $1.6 million last weekend in an exclusive Imax run. The film, which has awards aspirations, took in $3.7 million for a seventh-place finish and domestic total of $6.4 million. It's the lowest nationwide start on record for the filmmaker.
Sony and TriStar surely hoped for more, although "The Walk" cost a modest $35 million to make, so the studio's financial exposure is limited. "We're disappointed. It's a film we are very proud of," Sony distribution chief Rory Bruer said. "But what a great hold on 'Hotel Transylvania.' That's really good news."
One new offering eagerly embraced by audiences in New York and Los Angeles was Danny Boyle's "Steve Jobs," from Universal. The Steve Jobs biopic took in $521,000 for the weekend from four theaters, putting its location average at $130,236 — the best showing of 2015 to date and the biggest since "American Sniper" ($158,354).
It's also among the top screen averages of all time, and the fourth-best for a title going out in four theaters behind "The Grand Budapest Hotel" ($202,792), "American Sniper" and "Moonrise Kingdom" ($130,749).
"Steve Jobs' " performance bodes well as it prepares to expand timed to awards season. The critically acclaimed film was written by Aaron Sorkin and stars Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels. The film skewed young for an adult drama, with 51% of the audience under the age of 35, and skewed slightly male (53%).
Boyle's film will be playing in more than 60 theaters next weekend before rolling out nationwide on October 23.
Documentary "He Named Me Malala," another awards hopeful, expanded into a total of 446 theaters in its second weekend, earning an estimated $670,000 for a location average of roughly $1,502. That puts the movie's early cume at $752,000 for Fox Searchlight.
Elsewhere, "The Intern" — a bright spot for Warners — continued to hold well, grossing an estimated $8.5 million from 3,224 theaters in its fourth weekend for a domestic total of $49.2 million. The Anne Hathaway-Robert De Niro comedy placed No. 4, followed by Denis Villeneuve's awards contender "Sicario" with a pleasing $7.2 million from 2,620 locations. From Lionsgate, "Sicario" has now earned north of $26 million domestically.