Denis Villeneuve's sci-fi film Arrival landed with $1.5 million Thursday night while holiday comedy Almost Christmas took in $507,000 in previews.
Starring Amy Adams as a linguistic expert who is recruited to communicate with aliens who have landed on Earth in mysterious pods, Arrival is expected to earn in the mid- to high-teen millions when launching at the North American box office this weekend.
The film, also starring Jeremy Renner, premiered to critical acclaim at Toronto in September. Paramount had bought North American rights to the adult drama for a record-breaking $20 million during the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. It is produced and financed by FilmNation, Lava Bear and 21 Laps with a script by Eric Heisserer, based on the short story Story of Your Life by author Ted Chiang.
The $47 million film also stars Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Mark O'Brien.
Also opening wide this weekend, Almost Christmas is the first year-end holiday comedy of 2016. It's tracking to open in the low- to mid-teen millions for Universal and producer Will Packer. The ensemble movie, 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 the comedy.
Marvel's and Disney's latest superhero film Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, is expected to easily top the weekend box office in its second outing, which could take in another $40 million. DreamWorks Animation's and Fox's Trolls is likely to take the No. 2 spot.