‘Maze Runner’ Sequel is No. 1, Adding to Fox Box Office Bonanza

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“Maze Runner: The Death Cure” arrived to $23.5 million in ticket sales. Credit 20th Century Fox

The old-line movie factories essentially pursue one of two strategies. The dominant companies, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros., with their vast superhero holdings and ongoing franchises, focus on big-budget, all-audience films. Studios with less access to pre-existing characters — 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures — have it much harder, operating on more of an old-fashioned portfolio basis. They serve up a wide mix of movies and hope that some of those bets pay off.

The power of the second approach was on vivid display over the weekend, as six starkly different films from 20th Century Fox appeared on the box office charts, giving the studio control of more than 50 percent of ticket sales in North America.

A sequel to a sequel, “Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” with its zombie plague and revenge-determined teenagers, arrived to about $23.5 million in ticket sales domestically, dethroning Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” as the No. 1 attraction at multiplexes. “The Death Cure,” which was delayed after its resident heartthrob, Dylan O’Brien, suffered injuries on the set in 2016, cost at least $62 million to make. (“The Death Cure” collected an additional $62.7 million overseas.)

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Rosamund Pike in “Hostiles.” The western, which also stars Christian Bale, arrived to better-than-expected ticket sales. Credit Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, via Associated Press

Another Fox movie, “The Greatest Showman,” an original musical that has become a slow-building, word-of-mouth hit, delivered about $9.5 million in ticket sales (No. 4), for a new domestic total of $126.5 million. Three dramas with varied production budgets, each nominated for best picture at the coming Oscars — “The Post,” “The Shape of Water” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” — took in an additional $18.2 million for Fox and its specialty label, Fox Searchlight.

Rounding out the Fox portfolio was the animated “Ferdinand,” which collected about $1 million, for a new total of $80.5 million ($240 million worldwide).

As good as the weekend was for Fox, Sony’s “Jumanji” sequel demonstrated why studios prefer to focus on all-audience movies with built-in marketplace awareness. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” took in about $16.4 million in second place, for a new total of $338.1 million and global ticket sales of $822 million, according to comScore. It will likely take all six of the Fox releases to beat that one result.

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Third place went to “Hostiles” (Entertainment Studios), a western anchored by Christian Bale and directed by Scott Cooper. Overlooked by Oscar voters, “Hostiles” received solid reviews and collected a better-than-expected $10.2 million, for a total since opening in limited release on Dec. 22 of $12.1 million. It cost $39 million to make.

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Review: ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure,’ an Enjoyably Overstuffed Sequel

Review: ‘Hostiles’ Grapples With the Contradictions of the Western

‘Greatest Showman’ Becomes a Sleeper Hit as Disrespected Films Flourish

Review: ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure,’ an Enjoyably Overstuffed Sequel

Review: ‘Hostiles’ Grapples With the Contradictions of the Western

‘Greatest Showman’ Becomes a Sleeper Hit as Disrespected Films Flourish

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