The Martian
Brent Lang of Variety labelled it the "pre-Halloween massacre at the multiplexes."

Four new films, including "Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension" and Vin Diesel’s "The Last Witch Hunter," crowded into theaters this weekend and were swiftly pulverized and left for dead. Another, Steve Jobs, expanded after a brisk limited run in a few key cities, only to be given the cold shoulder by the general public.

Their failures allowed a trio of holdovers — "The Martian," "Goosebumps," and "Bridge of Spies" — to retain the top three spots on the box-office chart.

When the dust settled it was Ridley Scott’s "The Martian" in first place, adding US$ 15.9 million to the Fox release’s impressive US$ 166.4 million domestic haul. Sony’s "Goosebumps" showed some endurance in its second weekend, slipping a mere 35 percent to end the period with US$ 15.5 million. The family film’s total stands at US$ 43.7 million. And "Bridge of Spies," the Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks Cold War drama, got a lift as older crowds caught up with the awards-contender. It earned US$ 11.4 million, a mere 26 percent drop from its opening weekend, bringing its stateside gross to US$ 32.6 million.

But the results for the rest of the bunch were bleak. The glut of new releases was partially attributable to the timing of Halloween. The holiday falls on a Saturday, the busiest day for moviegoing, so studios were hoping to steer clear of what is shaping up to be a dead period by pushing lots of new content into this weekend. The plan backfired spectacularly.

Lionsgate’s "The Last Witch Hunter" cost US$ 70 million to make and only brought in US$ 10.8 million across 3,082 theaters for a fourth place finish. This paltry result came despite Diesel’s recent success with Furious 7 and his robust social media presence. Any ambitions of launching a new franchise have been extinguished.

The top five was rounded out by "Hotel Transylvania 2," which made US$ 9 million to push its domestic results to US$ 148.3 million after five weeks.

Paramount’s Paranormal Activity sequel whiffed, producing the lowest grossing opening in franchise history. That said, it’s a hard film to assess. The studio partnered with exhibitors like AMC and Cineplex on a move that allows the film to make its home entertainment debut early.

The exhibitors will receive a cut of digital revenues in return for allowing the studio to release the latest Paranormal Activity electronically 17 days after the movie leaves most theaters. However, many chains balked, worrying that the plan threatened theatrical exclusivity and thus their business models. They refused to show the picture, leaving it to open on 1,656 screens, roughly 1,000 less than the previous film in the horror series.