'The Maze Runner' opens at No. 1, lands a sequel

Story highlights

  • "The Maze Runner" had the biggest opening weekend since early August
  • A sequel is already in the works
  • Liam Neeson's new action movie didn't fare as well
  • "Guardians of the Galaxy" finally fell out of the top five
"The Maze Runner" ran away with the weekend box office, ringing up the best debut since early August.
The post-apocalyptic action flick, based on James Dashner's novel of the same name, cruised to victory with an estimated $32.5 million debut. In the world of young adult fiction turned Hollywood fodder, that's closer to a mega-hit like "The Hunger Games" than a flameout like "The Mortal Instruments."
In "The Maze Runner," Dylan O'Brien stars as the newcomer among a group of teens trapped in a mysterious glade, unsure why they're there or how to navigate the massive, menacing maze that appears to be their only way out. The film's strong opening should help restore some of the faith in YA novel adaptations after the recent weak performance of "The Giver."
In fact, since the "Maze" novel is part of a trilogy -- and since the movie nearly made back its $34 million production budget in just three days -- it was no surprise when Fox announced plans for a sequel before the weekend even ended. "The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials" is scheduled to hit theaters September 18, 2015.
Opening in a sluggish second this weekend was R-rated thriller "A Walk Among the Tombstones," starring AARP action hero Liam Neeson as an alcoholic former detective turned unlicensed private investigator. Its lukewarm total of $13.1 million was still enough to hold off the weekend's other new wide release, "This Is Where I Leave You," which stars Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Jane Fonda as a dysfunctional family reunited by a funeral.
After a month and a half, "Guardians of the Galaxy" finally fell out of the box office top five, but it didn't go far: It landed in sixth place, with total domestic ticket sales now at $313 million, and $632 million in worldwide grosses. Look for the "Guardians" sequel in 2017.
On a less successful note, writer/director Kevin Smith's comic horror tale "Tusk" managed to pull in just $886,000 after opening in 600 theaters. Justin Long stars as a smarmy podcaster who, while searching for stories, heads to Canada, where a man takes him prisoner and begins turning him into a walrus. Yes, you read that correctly.
Domestic weekend box office estimates are from Exhibitor Relations Co. (final numbers arrive Monday afternoon):
1. "The Maze Runner" -- $32.5 million
2. "A Walk Among the Tombstones" -- $13.1 million
3. "This Is Where I Leave You" -- $11.9 million
4. "No Good Deed" -- $10.2 million ($40.1 million in 10 days)
5. "Dolphin Tale 2" -- $9 million ($27 million in 10 days)