Box office roundup – Sept. 21, 2014 – “Maze Runner” dashes to top spot

20th Century Fox Minho (Ki Hong Lee, left) and Thomas (Dylan O'Brien, right) search for a way out of the maze.
20th Century Fox
Minho (Ki Hong Lee, left) and Thomas (Dylan O’Brien, right) search for a way out of the maze.

1. The Maze Runner – $32.5 million [debut week] For the onslaught of YA novels turned films, it’s proven surprisingly difficult for Hollywood to find the next “Harry Potter” or “The Hunger Games.” Earlier this year, “Divergent” broke through with a $54 million opening weekend, which was good enough to get the go-ahead for the sequel and a respectable $150 million domestic total. While “The Maze Runner” is considerably below “Divergent’s” debut, “Runner” had the benefit of only costing distributor 20th Century Fox $34 million and nearly recouping that on opening weekend shows this new franchise — the sequel is set for 2015 — has some legs. It will likely get beat out next week by Denzel Washington’s “The Equalizer,” but it will be very interesting to see how word-of-mouth (it received a very solid A- CinemaScore) helps in preventing a massive second weekend drop.

A-Walk-Among-the-Tombstones42. A Walk Among the Tombstones – $13.1 million – [debut week] In a bit of a surprise considering the role headliner Liam Neeson has been over the last decade. “Walk” marks Neeson’s lowest starring opening in since 2002’s “K-19: The Widowmaker” opened at $12 million. It was a far cry from Neeson’s “Taken” series as the 2012 sequel opened just shy of $50 million.

3. This is Where I Leave You – $11.9 million [debut week] Featuring a cast of well liked stars (Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Rose Byrne) and on the rise stars (Adam Driver), this adult comedy is already halfway toward recouping its $20 million budget. Of the three newcomers, critics liked this the least so how it fares next week will be telling.

4. No Good Deed – $10.2 million [2nd week; $40 million] As expected for most thrillers, the Idris Elba/Taraji Henson film had a noticeable drop from last week when it earned the top spot. With another couple of solid weekends, it should easily top the $51 million from 2013 thriller “The Call.”

Dolphin Tale 25. Dolphin Tale 2 – $9 million [2nd week; $27.1 million] – The family film capped off the top 5 and looks like it will have a tough time catching the $72 million of the 2011 original.