If early returns are right, Denis Villeneuve's sci-fi film Arrival and holiday comedy Almost Christmas are both enjoying a solid launch at the Veterans Day box office, although neither were ever expected to topple holdovers Doctor Strange and Trolls.
Arrival is projected to gross $6.5 million Friday, including $1.5 million in Thursday night previews, for a $16 million-plus debut.
Starring 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.
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 projected to earn $5 million Friday for a debut of $15 million 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, which earned $507,000 Thursday night.
Marvel's and Disney's latest superhero film Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, is expected to top the weekend with $36 million or more, followed by Trolls with $32 million-plus in its sophomore session (some believe the two movies will come in $2 million-$3 million higher).
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.