The Martian nearly defies Gravity with $78.5 million
THE Martian blasted off with a massive US$55 million (S$78.5 million) this weekend at the North American box office, nearly surpassing another space-based adventure, Gravity, as the highest-grossing October debut in history.
Worldwide, the movie grossed US$100.2 million.
The Ridley Scott release was bolstered by rapturous reviews, with critics calling the picture among the director's best and heaping praise on Matt Damon's performance as an astronaut stranded on the red planet.
It marks the second best launch of Scott's career, behind only Hannibal's US$58 million debut, and the second best premiere for Damon, trailing The Bourne Ultimatum's US$69.3 million bow.
"It's going to hold up really well," said Phil Contrino, vice-president and chief analyst at boxoffice.com "It's got everything. It's got suspense, action, heart and humour, and the ending is really satisfying. People will walk out of the theatre and talk it up to their friends."
In addition to the strong notices, media reports about the possible discovery of water on Mars kept the distant planet front and centre in people's minds.
"You can't make this stuff up," said Chris Aronson, Fox's domestic distribution chief. "The fact that there was the announcement on the same week as our film just excites people. Human beings are just interested in other worldly things right now."