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‘Martian’ holds onto its space at the top of box office

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By Libby Hill

Los Angeles Times

(TNS)

LOS ANGELES — “The Martian” topped the box office for the second straight weekend as Matt Damon and science kept audiences entertained to the tune of an estimated $37 million in the U.S. and Canada, a drop of only 32 percent from the film’s opening.

Directed by Ridley Scott and released by 20th Century Fox, “The Martian” has made back its production budget of $108 million, with cumulative earnings rising to an estimated $108.7 million. The film is the tale of a lone astronaut (Matt Damon) who, left for dead on Mars, must attempt to survive on his own. Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Pena and Chiwetel Ejiofor also star.

Keeping pace with impressive numbers of its own was Sony Pictures Animation’s “Hotel Transylvania 2,” which grossed an estimated $20.3 million in its third weekend, a drop of just 39 percent from a week ago. The animated comedy has made $116.8 million in the U.S. and Canada to date.

But perhaps a bigger story was Universal’s “Steve Jobs,” which opened in just four theaters in Los Angeles and New York but made nearly $521,000, for a massive per-screen average of more than $130,000. The film, starring Michael Fassbender as Jobs, recorded the best average of 2015, easily outpacing former champion “Sicario” and its $66,800 per location during opening weekend in September. Scripted by Aaron Sorkin from Walter Isaacson’s biography and directed by Danny Boyle, “Steve Jobs” opens wide Oct. 23.

Warner Bros. took the third spot at the box office with the Peter Pan prequel “Pan,” which opened at just $15.5 million, disappointing for a film that cost $150 million to make. “Pan” has been plagued with underwhelming reviews from critics and audiences. Competition from fellow family film “Hotel Transylvania 2” also could have hurt “Pan,” and the problem could intensify with the release of “Goosebumps” this coming weekend.

Warner Bros. had happier news in “The Intern,” starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro. It landed in fourth with $8.7 million, bringing its cumulative total to just under $50 million.

Rounding out the top five: Lionsgate’s “Sicario” earned $7.3 million in its fourth week of release, bringing the film’s total earnings to $26.7 million. The film, starring Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro, details a drug-war operation on the U.S.-Mexico border. It has been helped by an average A-minus grade from moviegoers, according to CinemaScore.

Chris Aronson, head of Fox’s domestic distribution, credited the continued success of “The Martian” to its crowd-pleasing story.

“With the hold this weekend, I think it’s entrenched as the major hit of the fall,” Aronson said. “I think as word of mouth spreads, this becomes the movie that people have to see and want to see to know what the conversation is about.”

Sony’s “The Walk” failed to captivate audiences in its move to wide release. Though it added more than 2,000 locations, it grossed just $3.6 million over the weekend, landing it at No. 7. The film, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is a dramatization of high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s 1974 walk between the World Trade Center towers.

“It’s disappointing when you love a film and you realize for some reason or another it just can’t break through on its release like this,” said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Sony Pictures, adding that the film will have more relevance long-term. “(Director) Bob Zemeckis has created a film that will be spoken of for many, many years to come.”

©2015 Los Angeles Times

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‘Martian’ holds onto its space at the top of box office