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Box Office: ‘Arrival’ to Land With $20 Million While ‘Doctor Strange,’ ‘Trolls’ Dominate

Sci-fi thriller “Arrival” is heading for as much as $20 million in its opening weekend at 2,317 North American locations while “Doctor Strange” and “Trolls” continue to dominate moviegoing, early estimates showed Friday.

Universal’s launch of comedy “Almost Christmas” should finish the weekend with as much as $17 million at 2,376 sites as it battles “Arrival” for the third spot. “Doctor Strange” is pegged to bring in around $40 million during the weekend, followed by a surprisingly strong “Trolls” at about $36 million, as both are expected to take in more than $12 million on the Veterans Day Friday.

“Arrival” looks to open Friday with $7 million (including $1.5 million from Thursday night previews)  followed by $6 million for “Almost Christmas.”

Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge” is heading for fifth with as much as $11 million in its second weekend. But mystery-thriller “Shut In,” starring Naomi Watts, is generating minimal traction with about $3 million at 2,050 locations.

Thanks to the holdovers, overall business should be solid as moviegoers look for escapist entertainment, according to Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore.

“Box office deja vu is in the cards during this post-election weekend as ‘Doctor Strange’ and ‘Trolls’ looking to two-peat at the top of the chart,” he said. “Newcomers and the acclaimed ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ will will take their place further down the chart, with ‘Almost Christmas’ and ‘Arrival’ offering up solid yet diverse options for audiences looking for an antidote to the election hangover.”

Paramount has been forecasting that “Arrival,” starring Amy Adams as a linguistics expert, will launch in the low-to-mid teens — comparable to last fall’s $15 million opening of Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies.”

“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 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.

“Almost Christmas” is directed by David E. Talbert 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. It’s produced by Will Packer, who has seen solid performances through the “Think Like a Man” and “Ride Along” franchises.

“Almost Christmas” had been 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 finish the weekend with nearly $150 million domestically in its first 10 days. The Benedict Cumberbatch vehicle has also performed impressively internationally with more than $240 million in two weeks.

“Trolls,” handled by Fox, should finish the weekend with a 10-day total of around $90 million domestically.  The cartoon comedy has gone past $100 million internationally after a mid-October launch.

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