"The Martian" is Scott’s second biggest opener behind "Hannibal" in 2001, and it's Damon’s second biggest opener behind "The Bourne Ultimatum" in 2007. Depending on final numbers for Sunday ticket sales, due out Monday, "The Martian" might inch past the $55.8 million opening of "Gravity."
"We were conservative in our estimates so coming in at $55 million was awesome," said Chris Aronson, Fox's head of domestic distribution. "I think it's a movie that has an incredible beating heart and soul to it. It's what movies are all about."
"The combination of critical support and positive audience reaction is so rare but when you get it, you've got a hit," Aronson said. "I think this film is just going to play and play."
Exit surveys demonstrate that the outer space genre was one of the major reasons people went out and bought tickets to “The Martian.” When they saw it, they loved it. Word-of-mouth was electric, and the film easily eclipsed projections that had it debuting to $45 million. Seventy percent of people who saw the film said they would definitely recommend it, according to Rentrak’s post-track survey. Typical responses to that survey question run in the 40% range.
That response was mirrored on social media. More than half of the people who intended to write about the film on Facebook said their reactions would be positive, while roughly three fourths of people who planned to tweet about the film said their response on Twitter would be favorable, according to Rentrak. The good buzz could build. Although the film skewed older, it played better to audiences under 25, who gave it an A plus rating.
When Matt Damon’s name appeared in the end credits during a SAG Cinema Society screening today, the crowd thundered a solid applause.