Johnny Depp’s ‘Black Mass’ Will End His Slump, But Won’t Catch ‘Maze Runner’

Dylan O’Brien sequel “The Scorch Trials” is projected to open north of $35 million for Fox

Johnny Depp will end his losing streak at the box office this weekend with “Black Mass,” the James “Whitey” Bulger mob drama projected to debut in the $22 million range for Warner Bros. But he’s not going to start a winning streak.

That’s because the young adult sequel “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” starring TV’s “Teen Wolf” star Dylan O’Brien, is expected to roll to $35 million or more for Twentieth Century Fox this weekend and knock “The Perfect Guy” out of the top spot.

Paramount’s “Captive,” a thriller starring Kate Mara and David Oyelowo, is debuting on 900 screens but won’t crack $5 million, while Universal is debuting “Everest” in 546 IMAX and Premium Large Format locations, hoping to build buzz for its its wide opening next week. Lionsgate begins its platform release of “Sicario,” a drug cartel thriller starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benecio del Toro, with a six-theater debut in New York and Los Angeles.

The PG-13-rated “Scorch Trials” gets the edge because the original was a quiet hit last year with $102 million domestically, adding nearly $240 million from overseas, all on a $34 million budget. Its mainly female teen audience will be mobilized by its young, social media-savvy cast, while the primary audience for the R-rated “Black Mass” will be over-25 adults, who don’t rush out to movie openings with the same fervor.

Twenty-five years ago, Depp was the heartthrob among teens, making a big-screen splash with a memorable performance in the quirky “Edward Scissorhands.” The role established Depp as a movie star and launched a career over which he’d roll up $3.2 billion in box office grosses with franchise blockbusters including the “Alice in Wonderland” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.

But that was then. Now, he’s riding a string of five straight misfires in which he’s starred, beginning with 2011’s “The Rum Diaries” and continuing with “Dark Shadows,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Transcendence” and Mortdecai.”

“Audiences still like him,” said senior analyst Phil Contrino,”they just don’t like his choice of movies. They’ll be glad to see him back.”

Depp has generated early awards buzz for his work in “Black Mass,” which is directed by Scott Cooper and written by Mark Mallouck and Jez Butterworth, and premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Benedict Cumberbatch tops a strong supporting cast that includes Dakota Johnson, Joel Edgerton, Kevin Bacon and Juno Temple.

The story of Bulger, among the last Irish mob bosses, was the basis of Jack Nicholson‘s character in 2006’s fictional “The Departed.” But the movie “Black Mass” is most comparable to is “The Town,” another R-rated Boston-set mob tale from Warner Bros. in which Ben Affleck co-wrote, directed and starred. It opened to $23.8 million on this weekend in 2010 and went on to make $92 million domestically and $154 million overseas.

Warner Bros. would take those numbers, as it hasn’t had a real hit since “San Andreas” back in May. But it has to be hoping for more from “Black Mass,” since the Cross Creek and RatPac Entertainment tale cost $53 million to make, well over the budget of “The Town.”

“Black Mass” will play in more than 3,188 theaters, while Fox will be rolling out “The Scorch Trials” on nearly 4,000 screens.

Wes Ball returns as director and T.S. Nowlin takes over scripting duties on “Scorch Trials,” produced by Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey and Ellen Goldsmith-Vein of “Twilight” fame. The cast includes Patricia Clarkson, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor, Kaya Scodelario and Thomas Brodie-Sangster.