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(EXCLUSIVE) #BoxOffice Report: New Titles Get Hammered, 'The Martian' Re-Emerges On Top

It's one of the closest weekends ever as audiences return to Ridley Scott's epic.

Story by Matt Cummings

This weekend's box office reminded us of the old saying "Just Because It's New Doesn't Mean It's Great," as audiences stayed away from five new releases, while returning a familiar name to No. 1. Although we discussed the race this weekend on our Inside the Bucket podcast, SJF was unwilling to crown anyone No. 1 because the numbers were so close. In fact, the winner was eventually crowned by the smallest margin of the year - just $219,000. But its return to the top saw many new releases under perform, perhaps fairing worse than the pre-sale of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Returning to the top is the Ridley Scott/Matt Damon Science Fiction epic The Martian with $15.7m. The Fox space survival film has endured with audiences for a variety of reasons: the terrific science behind the story, and the fact that Author Andy Weir's book doesn't take place in a vacuum, that journeying to Mars is no longer a question of if but of when. In fact, its meager 26.1% drop is almost unheard of for a film that's been out for four weeks, showing that audiences still have an appetite for smart, positive films about good people banding together. In fact, a purchase this weekend saw us watching the film in spaces once reserved for the bomb Crimson Peak, returning to XD, Atmos, and other big screen experiences. Since its release, The Martian has made an outstanding $167.4m.

Slipping to No. 2 is the Jack Black kids comedy Goosebumps, taking in $15.525m. Again, that difference of $219,000 is the small difference between the top 2 all year, beating the July 3rd weekend of $535,000. The film has resonated with audiences, enjoying a 73/74 split on Rotten Tomatoes. It's one of the highest rated on that site, demonstrating continued audience support. Sony probably has a certified winner on its hands, as it's already made $43m in just two weeks of release.

Bridge of Spies continues to bring in crowds, lurking in the shadows with $11.3m. The Tom Hanks.Steven Spielberg drama set in Cold War Berlin has nearly made back its $40m budget, enjoying 92% Tomato rating, which is second only to The Martian. We loved it for its excellent performances and beautiful cinematography, and you can read the rest of our review HERE.

It's only at the No.4 spot that we see an actual new release, the Vin Diesel fantasy flick The Last Witch Hunter. Its paltry $10.1m opener is the best Hollywood could do on a weekend featuring four new wide releases (openings at 2,000 or more theaters). And yet, it might have a chance to stick around next weekend, as only one major release - Bradley Cooper's Burnt - seeks to entrap audiences with its culinary delights. But it will have to do better than its awful 15/52 Tomatoes split if its wants to see continued success.

The top 5 ended with the Adam Sandler animated comedy Hotel Transylvania 2, spooking audiences with $8.83m. At $148m, we'll be sure to see a third installment, as Sandler and his cast of comedic dinosaurs didn't screw this one up (read our review HERE). Again, we could see it actually rise next weekend, given the Halloween weekend.

What's left of the top 10 is a collection of has-beens and never-will-be's, including several new releases that achieved new levels of infamy. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension and Steve Jobs took 6th and 7th respectively, both earning a combined $16.8m. That's probably less than the pre-sale drubbing of Star Wars: the Force Awakens, with IMAX numbers alone coming in at around $6.5m. Those brutal numbers underscores a painful reality that will plague theater owners this season: supposed 'prestige films' like Jobs may work for critics but not for the rest of us. Granted, it could see better numbers than this next weekend, but our review (read it HERE) exposed the film's odd pacing and thoroughly unlikable characters.

And then there's Jem and The Holograms and the Bill Murray comedy Rock the Kasbah, both of which became the #5 and #4 all-time worst wide release campaigns in film history. At just $2.8 COMBINED, neither film managed to crack the top 10, joining an ignominious list of trash and revealing that even with minimum budgets and expectations, someone made two certified duds and probably knew that going in to production. We don't tend to link other stories here, but one from Forbes points out the problem quite well.

One More Week of This
Next week doesn't get any better, unless you want to see another cooking movie in Burnt. But after that, we finally emerge from three months of disastrously low numbers and into SPECTRE and The Peanuts Movie, both of which will make more than the entire top 10 of this week.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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