Denis Villeneuve's critically acclaimed sci-fi adventure Arrival and year-end holiday comedy Almost Christmas will test the post-presidential election waters this weekend, although both are likely to lose to holdovers Doctor Strange and Trolls in terms of sheer votes.
Arrival, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, is projected to open in the mid- to high-teen millions when launching at the North American box office this weekend. During the Cannes Film Festival in 2014, the studio plunked down $20 million for North American rights to the adult drama, which was produced and financed by FilmNation, Lava Bear and 21 Laps.
Read more: 'Arrival': Venice Review
As a way of comparison, Paramount insiders note that Steven Spielberg's adult drama Bridge of Spies, starring Tom Hanks, opened to $15 million in October 2015 on its way to grossing $72 million domestically.
In Arrival, Adams plays a linguist with uncanny talents who is recruited by the U.S. military to communicate with aliens. Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Mark O'Brien also star in the pic, which cost $47 million to make.
Almost Christmas, the first year-end holiday comedy of 2016, is tipped to open in the low- to mid-teen millions for Universal and prolific producer Will Packer. The ensemble movie, targeting African-American audiences, stars Danny Glover as a patriarch who asks his family for just one gift - to all get along.
Kimberly Elise, Omar Epps, Romany Malco, Mo'Nique, Nicole Ari Parker, J.B. Smoove, Gabrielle Union, Jessie Usher and DC Young Fly round out the cast.
Read more: 'Almost Christmas': Film Review
EuropaCorp's thriller Shut In, starring Naomi Watts, also opens nationwide, but isn't expected to do notable business. (It was originally scheduled to open last December.)
Nor is the forecast looking good for Ang Lee's Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, which Sony opens in New York and Los Angeles this weekend and will make a nationwide play on Nov. 18. (At the 11th hour, the studio switched up its release plans for the moody modern-day war drama, which had been set to open everywhere this weekend.)
In a bold move, Lee used a groundbreaking combination of 4K resolution and 3D at 120 frames per second, which is five times the standard speed. However, theaters don't yet have the necessary projectors to show the film, save for locations in New York and L.A.
By all accounts, Marvel and Disney's latest superhero sensation, Doctor Strange, should easily top the box office in its second weekend with as much as $40 million, while DreamWorks Animation and Fox's Trolls is projected to hold at No. 2.