Paramount’s sci-fi thriller “Arrival”  has opened with a solid $1.5 million domestically in preview screenings on Thursday night at 1,944 locations, while Universal’s comedy “Almost Christmas” grossed $507,000 in late night shows in 1,885 theaters.

The alien-contact saga “Arrival,” starring Amy Adams as a linguistics expert, will be playing at 2,317 locations this weekend. Paramount has been forecasting a launch in the low-to-mid teens — comparable to last fall’s $15 million opening of Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies,” which wound up with $72 million by the end of its run.

“Arrival” premiered at the Venice Film Festival and has received strong critical support with a 96% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film, which centers on a dozen mysterious alien ships  touching down on Earth, is directed by Denis Villeneuve (“Sicario”) and also stars Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Tzi Ma.

Paramount acquired U.S., Canadian and Chinese distribution rights for “Arrival” at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The film,  financed by FilmNation Entertainment and Lava Bear Films, carries a $47 million budget.

Matt Damon’s space thriller “The Martian” opened with $2.4 million in Thursday night previews last fall and went on to a $54.3 million opening weekend.

Universal will release “Almost Christmas” in 2,376 theaters in North America. David E. Talbert directs from his own script about a beloved patriarch who asks his family for a holiday season gift — to get along and spend five days under the same roof without killing one another.

“Almost Christmas” is expected to take in around $15 million this weekend amid mixed reviews. The 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.

Marvel-Disney’s “Doctor Strange” will again dominate the post-election box office with at least $40 million.

Doctor Strange” opened above expectations last weekend in the U.S. with $85 million, then added on $17.4 million over the next three days. The Benedict Cumberbatch vehicle has also performed impressively internationally with more than $240 million in two weeks.

Trolls,” handled by Fox, generated a solid opening weekend with $46.6 million domestically and tacked on another $9.5 million over the next three days.  The cartoon comedy has gone past $100 million internationally after a mid-October launch.

EuropaCorp is opening the mystery-thriller “Shut In,” starring Naomi Watts as a psychologist trying to save a child — played by “Room” star Jacob Tremblay — during a New England snowstorm. It’s launching at 2,050 locations amid modest expectations around $6 million for the weekend.