Matt Damon‘s “The Martian” launched at the box office on Thursday with $2.5 million, placing it on track for an estimated $45 to $60 million dollar opening weekend.
Starting at 8 p.m. on Thursday, the 20th Century Fox release opened in 2,800 theaters with an average of $898 per theater, pulling the biggest Thursday preview gross in the past couple months since Universal’s “Straight Outta Compton” made $4.9 million in mid-August.
“The Martian,” which follows abandoned astronaut Mark Watney (Damon) who has to find a way to survive on Mars for a year, had a whopping production budget of $110 million and is expected to open in a hefty 3,826 theaters this weekend. Some critics are calling the drama with a 92 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes “the best film of the year.”
Anticipation for the film has been high, especially since NASA discovered water on Mars. In fact, prior to the announcement, the space saga was mentioned in 10,733 tweets. After the news broke, the mentions skyrocketed to almost 30,000. On Tuesday, that number grew to 38,797, according to BoxOffice.com.
“Sicario” opens wide this weekend, as well, and follows an FBI agent (Emily Blunt) who aids in the escalating war against drugs at the border between the United States and Mexico. It had a production budget of $30 million. Since it’s debut at the Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 11, it has received a Rotten Tomato score of 93 percent.
Peter Sollett’s LGBT drama “Freeheld,” based on the true story of Laurel Hester fighting for her lesbian partner to receive her pension benefits once she passes from cancer, is opening this weekend in limited release — in five locations — as well. It stars Julianne Moore as Hester and Ellen Page as Stacie Andree, with Steve Carell and Michael Shannon in supporting roles.
“He Named Me Malala,” the documentary about Malala Yousafzai who was targeted by the Taliban ad severely injured from a gunshot wound because she advocated for girls’ education in Pakistan, is opening on Friday in limited theaters in New York and Los Angeles. It will open nationwide on Oct. 9.
Wednesday marked the limited opening of Robert Zemeckis‘ “The Walk,” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Philippe Petit, the man who walked a wire strung between the two towers of the World Trade Centers in 1974. With a budget of $35 million, it opened to $240,379. It will go wide on Oct. 9, and is expected to pull more than $3 million in first five days in theaters.