Alumnus-directed film No. 1 at box office

Wes Ball

“The Maze Runner,” a feature film directed by Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts alumnus Wes Ball (B.F.A. ’02), with writing by T.S. Nowlin (B.F.A. ’03), led the North American box office its opening weekend with one of the biggest September debuts ever.

According to, “The Maze Runner” played in 3,604 theaters and opened to $32.5 million its first weekend. The release was bigger than similar genre films “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief” ($31.2 million) and “Ender’s Game” ($27 million). If “The Maze Runner” follows the pattern of similar releases, it could earn nearly $90 million.

In a post-apocalyptic setting, “The Maze Runner” follows Thomas, who, after having his memory wiped, is dropped in an enormous maze with a group of boys.  He soon learns they are part of a mysterious test, and finds it is his destiny to join the ‘maze runners’ and lead them to freedom.

As a result of the film’s greater than expected opening weekend, 20th Century Fox is aggressively moving forward with “The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials,” and announced a Sept. 18, 2015, release date. Ball has been tapped to direct, while Nowlin will work on the script. Author James Dashner has also written a third book, “The Death Cure,” paving the way for a possible film trilogy.

Ball burst onto the scene last year when his short “Ruin” became an Internet sensation, amassing close to five million hits.  Ball used the short to tell a sliver of the story he had been developing with Nowlin.  The pair then sold the project pre-emptively to Fox.  Ball is also aboard to direct the project.