From Doctor Strange to Trolls to Denis Villeneuve's new cerebral Arrival sci-fi thriller, movies at the North American box office did notably more than expected as consumers seemingly flocked to the cinema looking for escapism following the conclusion of the 2016 presidential election and Donald Trump's surprise victory.
Arrival, starring Amy Adams, launched with an estimated $22 million-$24 million debut. Holiday comedy Almost Christmas also did nicely with $15.7 million. While neither were able to topple holdover Doctor Strange and Trolls from the top two stops, both - and particularly Arrival - came in well ahead of predictions (heading into the weekend, most thought it would make $16 million).
And both Doctor Strange and Trolls saw unusually narrow declines.
Marvel and Disney's Doctor Strange easily stayed at No. 1 in its sophomore outing, falling just 48 percent to an estimated $43.9 million. That's among the lowest drops for any superhero title, and ties with Iron Man to mark the lowest for a Marvel Cinematic Universal Title
Trolls, from DreamWorks Animation and Fox, only declined 22 percent to an estimated $36.3 million, one of the lowest drops ever for an animated film.
Arrival stars Amy Adams as a linguistic expert who is recruited to communicate with aliens who have landed on Earth in mysterious pods, the critically acclaimed movie is playing in 2,317 theaters.
"Denis Villeneuve's film is a potent reminder of what a great movie can do - and what great art can do- they can speak to our times and transcend them. This is a special film. Everyone at paramount is so proud it. The outpouring of love, for the film, Amy, Jeremy and the cast speaks to the power of the movie."
The film, also starring Jeremy Renner, began its life as an independent film before Paramount pre-bought North American rights to the adult drama for a record-breaking $20 million in 2014. It is produced and financed by FilmNation, Lava Bear and 21 Laps with a script by Eric Heisserer, based on Story of Your Life by author Ted Chiang. The $47 million film also stars Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Mark O'Brien.
Almost Christmas is also pleasing its debut, placing No. 4 Friday with $5.9 million from 2,376 theaters for a projected $16 million weekend. Universal and producer Will Packer's ensemble comedy, targeting African-American audiences, stars Danny Glover as a patriarch of a large family that comes together for the holidays and deals with complicated family dynamics.
Kimberly Elise, Omar Epps, Romany Malco, Mo'Nique, Nicole Ari Parker, J.B. Smoove, Gabrielle Union, Jessie Usher and DC Young Fly also star in Almost Christmas, which grabbed an A- CinemaScore.
After Arrival and Almost Christmas, the weekend's other new nationwide offering is Shut In. The thriller, from EuropaCorp, appears DOA and may not earn more than $3 million for the weekend.
Nov. 11, 1:00 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
Nov. 12, 8:15 a.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
Nov. 13, 7:30 a.m. Updated with weekend results.