LOS ANGELES -- Maze Runner: The Death Cure is the highest grossing film of last weekend, but according to studio estimates Sunday, many moviegoers also chose the first weekend after Oscar nominations to catch up with some awards contenders such as The Shape of Water, which had its highest grossing frame with about $6 million.
In first place, The Death Cure took in a higher than expected $24.2 million. It's the third and final installment in the Maze Runner series based on James Dashner's dystopian young adult novels and the weakest opening of the three (the first opened to $32.5 million and the second to $30.3 million). Part of that may be attributable to stalled momentum and a two-and-a-half-year gap between the second and third film. The Death Cure's release was delayed a year by 20th Century Fox after star Dylan O'Brien's on-set injury in early 2016.
It was still enough to push Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle back down to second place for the first time in three weeks. Down only 16 percent, Jumanji added $16.1 million, bringing its total to about $338 million.
"It was going to take a big franchise film to knock Jumanji off the top of the chart," said comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.
In third place, the Christian Bale Western Hostiles expanded wide to 2,816 theaters in its sixth weekend and earned $10.1 million. The Hugh Jackman musical The Greatest Showman kept going strong in fourth with $9.5 million, down only 11 percent, and now boasting a total of $126.5 million.
Many audiences also took advantage of the added theater counts of many Oscar hopefuls following nominations Jan. 23. Steven Spielberg's Pentagon Papers drama The Post, from 20th Century Fox, placed fifth in its third weekend in wide release with $9.1 million.
Guillermo del Toro's fantasy romance The Shape of Water, which had a leading 13 nominations for Fox Searchlight, added 1,001 theaters which put it back in the top 10 in its ninth weekend of release. The film is nominated for best picture, best director, best actress (Sally Hawkins), supporting actress (Octavia Spencer) and supporting actor (Richard Jenkins), among others and has grossed about $38 million to date.
Fox Searchlight also added theaters for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which scored seven Oscar nominations Jan. 23, and earned $3.8 million over the weekend (an 88 percent boost). And Focus Features upped the theater count for Darkest Hour and Phantom Thread, which both took in about $3 million after getting 6 nominations each.
"The Oscars offer the greatest marketing hook in the history of movies. These are films that would usually be played out," Dergarabedian said. "For audiences, it's a validation. If anyone is on the fence, a best picture nomination is a pretty good way to push people in the direction of the movie theater."
With several weeks to go until the Oscars, there is plenty of time to catch up on the best picture nominees, but they won't be without competition -- the third installment of the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise opens Feb. 9 and on Feb. 16 the highly anticipated Black Panther roars into theaters.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by comScore:
Maze Runner: The Death Cure, 20th Century Fox, $24,167,011, 3,787 locations, $6,382 average, $24,167,011, 1 Week.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Columbia, $16,144,874, 3,553 locations, $4,544 average, $337,802,077, 6 Weeks.
Hostiles, Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, $10,110,739, 2,816 locations, $3,590 average, $11,958,534, 6 Weeks.
The Greatest Showman, 20th Century Fox, $9,550,367, 2,663 locations, $3,586 average, $126,525,599, 6 Weeks.
The Post, 20th Century Fox, $9,107,141, 2,640 locations, $3,450 average, $58,793,064, 6 Weeks.
12 Strong, Warner Bros., $8,686,066, 3,018 locations, $2,878 average, $29,810,676, 2 Weeks.
Den of Thieves, STX Entertainment, $8,632,808, 2,432 locations, $3,550 average, $28,775,253, 2 Weeks.
The Shape of Water, Fox Searchlight, $5,922,553, 1,854 locations, $3,194 average, $37,901,298, 9 Weeks.
Paddington 2, Warner Bros., $5,668,433, 2,792 locations, $2,030 average, $32,118,849, 3 Weeks.
Padmaavat, Viva Entertainment, $4,430,255, 326 locations, $13,590 average, $4,937,521, 1 Week.
Star Wars: Episode VIII -- The Last Jedi, Disney, $4,254,001, 1,745 locations, $2,438 average, $610,795,822, 7 Weeks.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Fox Searchlight, $3,840,684, 1,457 locations, $2,636 average, $37,251,635, 12 Weeks.
Forever My Girl, Roadside Attractions, $3,567,978, 1,424 locations, $2,506 average, $9,127,137, 2 Weeks.
The Commuter, Lionsgate, $3,412,694, 1,811 locations, $1,884 average, $31,389,883, 3 Weeks.
Insidious: The Last Key, Universal, $3,189,055, 1,901 locations, $1,678 average, $63,449,355, 4 Weeks.
I, Tonya, Neon Rated, $3,028,658, 960 locations, $3,155 average, $18,903,403, 8 Weeks.
Phantom Thread, Focus Features, $2,981,885, 1,021 locations, $2,921 average, $10,713,694, 5 Weeks.
Darkest Hour, Focus Features, $2,886,835, 1,333 locations, $2,166 average, $45,199,242, 10 Weeks.
MET Opera: Tosca (2018), Fathom Events, $2,000,000, 900 locations, $2,222 average, $2,000,000, 1 Week.
Lady Bird, A24, $1,887,226, 1,172 locations, $1,610 average, $41,610,318, 13 Weeks.
MovieStyle on 02/02/2018
Print Headline: Maze Runner overtakes Jumanji