Weekend Box Office: ‘Strange’ and ‘Trolls’ Remain Strong While ‘Arrival’ Dazzles In Debut

Thanks to the Veterans Day holiday falling on a Friday this year, the North America box office found itself in a very good place this weekend. Holdovers Doctor Strange and Trolls had great second sessions while newcomers Arrival and Almost Christmas also drew in crowds looking for some cinematic escape following a dark, dismal week for most. The news wasn’t as good for EuroCorp’s Shut In, which was shut out with an awful seventh place debut.

There was no slowing down the Disney/Marvel Express. Following its big $85 million debut one week ago, Doctor Strange landed an estimated $43 million in its sophomore session on 3,882 screens. After ten days, Strange has amassed a mighty $153 million in domestic sales.

As we all know by now, the normal percentage drop for a superhero flick in its second weekend of release is usually in the neighborhood of 50-60%. The 49% for Doctor Strange is definitely one of the better holds for a film in this genre. Granted, it got a nice benefit from the Friday holiday. But that only accounts for a certain amount. Word-of-mouth has been strong for the origin flick, and it has earned roughly 20-30% more than fellow Marvel origin films Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor.

Depending on how well the Benedict Cumberbatch fantasy epic holds up against the arrival of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them starting on Thursday, Strange’s final domestic haul could land around the $250 million mark with at least double that from overseas. Speaking of the international markets, their contribution to Disney’s Marvel bank account stands at $340 million after three weeks.

If Strange’s hold was impressive, it paled in comparison to the scant 25% slide experienced by Fox/Dreamworks’ Trolls. The animated hit earned a great $35 million from 4,066 theaters this weekend to bring its ten-day total to $94 million. The film is benefitting greatly from being the only family film in the market and will continue to be so until Moana arrives the day before Thanksgiving. With the kiddie market all to itself until then, Trolls should have no issue making its way to at least $165 million.

Third place belonged to Paramount’s sci-fi drama Arrival, which invaded 2,317 theaters to score a great $24 million in ticket sales. Critical notices were strong across the board for the Denis Villeneuve (Sicario) feature, which stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker. Their positive feedback helped Arrival score a solid 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Check out Jon Hueber’s review here. Ticket buyers -no doubt troubled by the fact that they had to think during the film- gave the movie a middling “B” rating on CinemaScore.

In fourth place for the weekend was Universal’s African-American comedy Almost Christmas with an estimated $15.5 million from 2,376 theaters. The $17 million production received a Grinch-like 44% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, while ticket buyers gave it a kinder “A-“ grade on CinemaScore.

Rounding out the top five was the Mel Gibson World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge with $10.7 million from 2,971 theaters. Thanks in large part to the Veterans Day holiday and strong feedback from opening weekend crowds; Ridge dipped only 29% from its debut. So far, Hacksaw Ridge has brought in $32.2 million for domestic distributor Lionsgate. The military drama looks to finish with just over $50 million Stateside.

Just outside the top five was the third wide release of the weekend, the EuroCorp dud Shut In. The Naomi Watts thriller sputtered in seventh place with a dismal $3.7 million from 2,058 theaters. Shut In has sat on the shelf for the past nine months, and given the zero percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and “C” grade from CinemaScore, the shelf is where it should have stayed.

  1. The Accountant (Warner) $4.5 million (-22%); $77.8 million
  1. Boo! A Madea Halloween (Lionsgate) $3.5 million (-54%); $70.4 million
  1. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (Paramount) $3.3 million (-39%); $54.5 million
  1. Inferno (Sony) $3.25 million (-47%); $31.5 million

On Thursday, the anticipated Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them arrives on the scene. Early estimates for the Warner film’s opening are currently around $80 million. Joining Beasts in theaters next weekend is the sports drama Bleed for This and the teen comedy-drama The Edge of Seventeen.

Next weekend will also see the national expansion of Ang Lee’s war drama Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. The TriStar release opened in two theaters in New York and Los Angeles this weekend, where it brushed off negative reviews to bag a huge $120,000.

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