“The Maze Runner” is hurtling towards theaters this weekend, with the sleek look of a young adult franchise in the making.
The adaptation of James Dashner’s post-apocalyptic bestseller mixes a dash of “Lord of the Flies” and a dollop of “The Hunger Games” in its story of a group of teenagers who must outrace some nasty creatures and a dangerous, perpetually shifting labyrinth as they struggle to survive.
Audiences seem to be responding to futuristic saga and the film is on track to debut to north of $30 million across 3,500 locations, 350 of which will be Imax theaters and the same number of premium large format screens.
“That young adult audience is fickle, but if they’re properly marketed to then suddenly you’ve got a big hit on your hands,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak.
Fox, which is backing the $34 million production, is being more conservative and saying the film should come in the high-$20 million range, insisting the studio would be happy with anything with a 3 in front of it. Though “Maze Runner’s” book sales fall short of “Twilight,” “The Fault in Our Stars” and other young adult hits, it may be able to broaden the audience demographically. The action elements should bring in boys, unlike the film adaptations of those books which played primarily to girls. For the double x chromosome set, the attraction is Dylan O’Brien, the oft-shirtless star of “Teen Wolf,” in the lead role.
“The Maze Runner” sprints into a crowded marketplace, with two other wide releases landing in theaters, “This Is Where I Leave You” and “A Walk Among the Tombstones.” Both films claim literary pedigree — “This is Where I Leave You” adapts Jonathan Tropper’s family dramedy, while “A Walk Among the Tombstones” is based on a crime thriller by Lawrence Block. (Adapted from VARIETY)