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The Martian Gets Off To A Red-Hot Start At The Box Office

October 2, 2015

In my review of Sir Ridley Scott’s The Martian, I called it a “summer” blockbuster that happens to drop in the prestigious autumn frame, and that it “bridges the gap between effects-driven tentpoles and Oscar-seeking human dramas.” Now, if early indicators play a part, The Martian might post weekend box office numbers that we normally expect in July, and not October.

Matt Damon portrays an astronaut who must draw upon his ingenuity to survive on a hostile planet.

Matt Damon portrays an astronaut who must draw upon his ingenuity to survive on a hostile planet.

The Hollywood Reporter says that Ridley Scott’s The Martian opened to a stellar (get it?) $2.5 million in Thursday evening previews. Opening in the ballpark of 2,800 locations, The Martian posted the strongest Thursday-evening since Universal’sStraight Outta Compton posted a healthy $4.9 million in August. That musical biopic went on to post $60M domestically in that opening frame, and while The Martianlikely won’t reach that figure, THR believes it could get to the $45-$50 million range.

Note to Sir Ridley Scott: Audiences LOVE when you do science-fiction. The last time the director ventured into outer space for a feature – 2012’s Prometheus — the film opened to a whopping $51 million… right where The Martian could fall. Since then, Scott’s The Counselor and Exodus: Gods and Kings opened to a soft $7 million and $24 million, respectively. Not the best.

The Martian adapts Andy Weir’s novel of the same name, which follows NASA’s attempted rescue mission of stranded astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon), who must stay alive on Mars after his team leaves him behind following a failed expedition. The movie is smart, funny and thrilling, and plays like a summer blockbuster with a brain. Buzz on Sir Ridley’s space thriller is high, primarily because reviews have been strong. The movie enjoys a 93% Fresh grade on Rotten Tomatoes, and I believe that word of mouth will only continue to boost the movie’s performance chances in the coming weeks.

One factor that should help The Martian as it contends for box-office glory is the fact that it will sell multiple 3D tickets, assisting its bottom line. As we noted in our To 3D review, Ridley Scott figured out how to make exquisite use of the 3D technology, putting audience members inside the suits and ships on Mars, as well as bringing real depth to the surfaces of the Red Planet (actually, Jordan) as Mark Watney figures out how to get back home.

The Martian is in theaters as we speak. If you couldn’t tell by now, we highly recommend it.