You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Box Office: ‘Doctor Strange’ Stays on Top With $43 Million, ‘Arrival’ Impresses

Alien invasion thriller “Arrival” capitalized on strong reviews to score an impressive debut, while Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” topped the box office for the second consecutive weekend.

The superhero adventure picked up $43 million to bring its domestic total to $153 million. DreamWorks Animation’s “Trolls” came in second, earning $35 million to bring its stateside haul to $94 million after two weeks of release.

The mixture of strong holdovers and compelling new releases goosed box office receipts, while offering a sense of respite after a bruising presidential election that saw Donald Trump upset Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House.

“Escapism seemed to be the order of the day,” said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “I think people wanted to step outside of the world of politics and get back to some semblance of normalcy.”

Ticket sales also benefited from the Veteran’s Day holiday, which gave school children and many adults an extra day off and pushed revenues up 80% on Friday.

Arrival” took third place, easily outpacing pre-release tracking with a debut of $24 million. Heading into the weekend, the film was expected to launch to $16 million. The film’s audience was 52% male and 85% over the age of 25. “Arrival” has been a fixture of major film festivals in Toronto and Telluride, which helped build awareness heading into its premiere.

“The critics have been raving about this thing for months,” said Kyle Davies, Paramount’s distribution head. “Sometimes the best advertisement for the movie is the movie itself.”

“Arrival” was directed by Denis Villeneuve, a filmmaker who has built a steady following with the likes of “Prisoners” and “Sicario.” It focuses on a linguist (Amy Adams) who is recruited to try to communicate with alien visitors. Paramount picked up domestic rights to the film for $20 million. FilmNation, Lava Bear, and 21 Laps financed the $47 million production.

“Arrival’s” strong box office result is a shot in the arm for Paramount, which has weathered a string of flops such as “Zoolander 2,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” and “Ben-Hur.” The instability starts at the top. Viacom, Paramount’s corporate parent, was engulfed in an internecine war for much of the past year, as Shari Redstone, the daughter of founder Sumner Redstone, successfully worked to oust Philippe Dauman from his perch as the company’s CEO. Now Paramount chief Brad Grey is trying to convince Shari Redstone that he has the vision to lead the company out of its doldrums, and has pointed to films like “Arrival” as proof that the studio’s slate is improving.

Universal’s “Almost Christmas” debuted to a solid $15.6 million across 2,376 locations for a fourth place finish. The comedy about a dysfunctional family gathering for the holidays after their mother dies was economical to produce and carries a $17 million budget. It stars Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union, Kimberly Elise, and Jessie Usher. The audience for “Almost Christmas” was 56% female and 60% over the age of 25, with African-Americans making up 71% of ticket buyers.

“It’s highly relatable,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s domestic distribution chief. “The message about families and reunions, and sharing the good and the bad with each other, and how that makes us stronger, appeals to a lot of people.”

Lionsgate’s “Hacksaw Ridge” rounded out the top five, earning $10.8 million to bring the war drama’s total to $32.3 million. The film appeared to get a lift from Veteran’s Day crowds looking for some patriotic entertainment.

Among the weekend’s other wide releases, EuropaCorp’s “Shut In” stumbled out of the gate, kicking off to a paltry $3.7 million from 2,058 locations. The film cost $10 million to produce.

Sony bowed “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” on two screens where it made $120,300. The Iraq War drama is shot at an accelerated frame rate, but few theaters will be able to exhibit the film at that speed. The limited release did exhibit the picture in the immersive format that director Ang Lee has pushed theaters to incorporate. At both locations, it was screened in 4K, 3D, and at 120 frames per second. “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” will expand next weekend onto more than 800 theaters. The film was expected to be an awards contender, but its prospects have diminished in the wake of weak reviews.

In limited release, Sony Pictures Classics debuted “Elle” on two screens where it earned $56,012. The thriller stars Isabelle Huppert as a woman who plots revenge against the man who raped her.

“Moonlight,” the critically acclaimed Oscar hopeful about a black man dealing with his sexuality, continued to impress. The drama from A24 earned $1.4 million from 176 screens to push its total to $4.8 million.

Overall, ticket sales were up more than 45% from the same period a year ago. Next weekend brings the release of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” a spinoff of the Harry Potter franchise that carries high expectations and should have the muggles out in force.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Hocus Pocus' Sequel in Development at Disney Plus

    Disney Plus has launched development of a sequel to 1993’s fantasy comedy “Hocus Pocus” with “Workaholics” writer and co-producer Jen D’Angelo on board to script. The original “Hocus Pocus” starred Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as a trio of witch sisters who have been cursed since 1693 in Salem, Ma. The witches [...]

  • Lady Gaga

    Variety Wins 2019 Eppy Award for Best Digital Magazine

    Variety has won two Eppy Awards from Editor & Publisher, including Best Digital Magazine and Best Collaborative Investigative/Enterprise Feature for “American (In)Justice” — a collaboration with fellow PMC property Rolling Stone. “American (In)Justice” also tied with USA Today’s “Copy, Paste, Legislate” collaboration with The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity. Variety has provided [...]

  • Joker Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

    Box Office: Villains Face Off Again as 'Joker' and 'Maleficent' Battle for First Place

    Despite three new nationwide releases, domestic box office charts look to be dominated by holdovers — Warner Bros.’ “Joker” and Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” — during the last weekend in October. “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” debuted last weekend with $36 million in North America, enough to dethrone “Joker” after the super-villain origin story’s back-to-back [...]

  • Yasushi Shiina

    Tokyo Market is Finding New Strengths, Says Yasushi Shiina

    Clouds on the global economic horizon and disruption to the scheduling of the event, have done little to dampen the interest of foreign visitors to TIFFCOM, Japan’s biggest film and TV market. Especially those from China, says market head, Yasushi Shiina. The market is again running at the Sunshine City shopping, entertainment and business complex [...]

  • "Weathering With You" directed by Makoto

    Toho Unveils Dual Media Romance 'Love Me, Love Me Not' at Tokyo Market

    Japan’s biggest film company, which produces, distributes and exhibits its own product in partnership with leading media companies, Toho has brought a line-up to TIFFCOM full of present and future hits. The biggest is “Weathering with You,” the love story animation by Makoto Shinkai that surpassed the $100 million mark only a month after its [...]

  • Hit Me Anyone One More Time

    TIFFCOM: Pony Canyon Saddles up FujiTV's Smash 'Hit Me Anyone'

    One of Japan’s five major broadcast networks, Fuji TV has also been a pioneer and leader among the networks in feature film production. This year at TIFFCOM long-time partner Pony Canyon is representing Fuji TV films that have recently hit number one at the Japanese box office. Among the hottest, with three straight weeks atop [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content