With Veterans Day falling on a Friday, it’s bound to be another big weekend at the box office after last weekend’s overall ticket sales surged +117% to $191 million over the previous pre-Halloween period. The holiday brings with it 52% of all K-12 schools off and another 30% of U.S. colleges on break according to ComScore, which of course is good for Friday matinees.
Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange will continue to heal the fall box office with a second No. 1 notch between $40M-$42M ( a -52% hold), while DreamWorks Animation/20th Century Fox’s Trolls will hold strong with a -36% second weekend of $30M, per industry sources. Today, in its sixth day of play, Doctor Strange crosses $100M, becoming the second highest-grossing title of the fall box office season after Warner Bros’ Sully ($123.3M). Before Doctor Strange opened, the fall was lagging 10% behind the same period last year at $1.1 billion. That percentage has now slimmed, according to ComScore, with this autumn (post-Labor Day through November 7) pacing 5.9% behind last year with a seasonal take of $1.3B.
Joining Doctor Strange and Trolls are Paramount’s Amy Adams alien melodrama Arrival, which boasts a 98% Rotten Tomatoes score from 83 reviews and a $15M opening at 2,200 venues; and Universal’s Will Packer comedy production Almost Christmas, which is looking to unwrap $12.5M-$13M at 2,372 theaters per industry projections. There’s also EuropaCorp’s Naomi Watts thriller Shut In which is forecast to earn between $7M-9M at 2,050 theaters (with no 7 PM showtimes).
On the specialty side for studios, Sony/TriStar has Studio 8’s Ang Lee war pic Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, which will play at the Hollywood Arclight’s Cinerama Dome and AMC Loews Lincoln Square on Christie’s 4K 120-frames-per-second 3D projectors before expanding to 800 locations in 2D on November 18. There are only five screens in the world equipped to present a movie in this format. Industry estimates have the film, based on Ben Fountain’s novel, opening between $75K-$100K. Pic, which stars Vin Diesel, Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund, Steve Martin, Chris Tucker and Joe Alwyn, follows an Iraq War soldier who is battling PTSD during his return to the U.S.
In addition, Lionsgate/Summit’s Mel Gibson directorial Hacksaw Ridge will be in its second go-round, and the distributor is hoping the movie benefits from Veterans Day traffic. Forecasts are currently at $10M, with the Andrew Garfield vehicle counting $18.6M through yesterday. Hacksaw Ridge was co-financed by Cross Creek, and Lionsgate is handling as a service deal.
Despite Doctor Strange‘s grip on global ticket stubs, sources tell us that it’s unlikely that the Marvel movie will click past $1 billion. To date, only four Marvel titles have eclipsed that mark: Avengers ($1.5B), Age Of Ultron ($1.4B), Iron Man 3 ($1.2B) and last summer’s Captain America: Civil War ($1.15B). Basically, Warner Bros’ Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them will be standing in Doctor Strange‘s path overseas when it swoops into theaters in eight days. Japan is the only territory left (January 27) for the Benedict Cumberbatch-starrer. Even though Doctor Strange held the best (-38%) in its second weekend abroad when compared to other Marvel predecessors — Captain America: The Winter Soldier (-41%), Ant-Man (-42%), Guardians Of The Galaxy (-44%) and Thor: Dark World (-46%) — all of these movies finaled their worldwide cumes between $519M-$773M. Doctor Strange‘s forecast is between $750M-$850M. In regards to its presence in China, its $44.3M is good per sources, not great.
Through yesterday, the Mike Mitchell-directed Trolls counts $54.5M. Prior to opening, Trolls was propelled by its executive music producer Justin Timberlake’s summer hit single “Can’t Stop The Feeling.” It was a unique piece of marketing because the song dropped months in advance of Trolls‘ opening, and another example in this post-digital age of how hit songs and soundtracks shouldn’t be disregarded when it comes to raising a movie’s profile. Previous examples include Universal tapping Beyonce in its release of the first trailer for Fifty Shades Of Grey and Disney hiring Daft Punk on Disney’s Tron: Legacy. The French techno music group wasn’t just responsible for the hip score which went gold (600K units sold), but it also inspired the film’s production design and costumes.
Trolls was easily the biggest brand partnership campaign for an original property in DWA history, delivering close to $18M in TV media via nine co-branded partners including McDonalds, True Value, Dish Network, Macy’s and General Mills.
Paramount snapped up Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival for a record $20M. Adams plays a linguist who is recruited by the military to communicate with aliens who’ve invaded earth. For the actress, it’s her awards-season bet after counting five Oscar noms. Arrival was financed by Lava Bear Films and FilmNation Entertainment for $47M, with the latter handling foreign sales. Sony has Arrival in various countries abroad and earned its critical groundswell by playing the fall festival trilogy of Venice, Telluride and Toronto.
Almost Christmas, directed and written by David E. Talbert, follows a beloved father whose only wish this holiday season is that his family gets along under one roof. Cast includes Kimberly Elise, Omar Epps, Danny Glover, Romany Malco, Mo’Nique, Nicole Ari Parker, J.B. Smoove, Gabrielle Union, Jessie Usher and DC Young Fly. Given the short theatrical life of Christmas titles, it’s always wise to get these out weeks in advance before the holiday, and that’s what is happening here. Last year’s holiday duo of CBS Films’ Love The Coopers and Sony’s The Night Before ($43M domestic) didn’t overhaul the charts, but the whole reason why studios invest in these thrifty perennials is because they’re a lifetime library cash provider in the home market. Almost Christmas cost a reported estimated $17M, the same as Uni’s 2013 hit The Best Man Holiday, which churned out a $30.1M opening, an A+ CinemaScore and a $70.5M domestic cume. That Malcolm D. Lee production earned a 69% Rotten Tomatoes score. Almost Christmas’ reviews are still being tabulated. Thursday previews start at 7 PM for both Almost Christmas and Arrival.
Sony Pictures Classics has the Cannes Film festival closer Elle debuting Friday. The French thriller, directed by Paul Verhoeven, stars Isabelle Huppert as a woman who develops a haunting relationship with the guy next door. Deadline’s Brian Brooks will have more on that in his specialty box office preview.