Update Sunday 10AM, after 7:34 AM post: Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange is charting a No. 1 opening of $85M at 3,882 theaters, sending the weekend’s overall ticket sales to $192M, which is a huge wake-up of +118% over last weekend’s sleepy pre-Halloween FSS, and +19% from a year ago when Spectre led all films.

At a time when many producers and studio executives ponder day and date streaming, and the threat of Netflix and YouTube stealing away the younger generation, Doctor Strange is a reminder of why we see movies on the big screen.

“When you have 51% of the weekend driven by PLF, Imax and 3D, movie theaters exist for a movie like Doctor Strange. It’s a testament to the real artistry here, as the movie uses every ounce of available technology to introduce something that hasn’t been seen,” says Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis. And Doctor Strange didn’t vacuum up all the cash, with enough to go around. You’d think that Doctor Strange would be the every person pic, but DreamWorks Animation/20th Century Fox’s Trolls pulled in a 13-34 crowd of 77%, a testament to the feature toon’s breadth with a weekend opening of $45.6M at 4,060 theaters.

“There’s room for other things when the box office is on fire. Especially when you have something that services different segments of the audience, you’re definitely in good shape. We’re encouraged by the huge number of teens seeing Trolls,” said 20th Century Fox distribution boss Chris Aronson. Peg that teen drawn to the Pitch Perfect Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake halo effect.

doctor strange

Doctor Strange marks the second best debut for Disney in November behind Marvel’s first post-summer release,  Thor: The Dark World ($85.7M). Once again, Doctor Strange reps a win for the deeper universe characters in the Marvel canon. Explaining how the brand continues to win with its lesser known characters, Hollis says “It’s a combination of many things. It’s the unbroken critical and commercial success, the consistency of the 10 consecutive A CinemaScores, it’s the halo effect of the brand and the license to take risks with lesser known characters. Kevin Feige and Louis D’Esposito and the whole senior leadership team at Marvel put an emphasis on character development and focus on each of their character’s particular journeys while empowering storytellers to dive in.” Hollis also spoke about “the connecting tissue” between the new and established characters being a strength to Marvel’s continued success.

As is typical with Marvel films, fanboys show up on Thursday and Friday, and so we typically see a dip in Saturday and Sunday receipts, and in the case of Doctor Strange ticket sales eased an estimated -4% for $31.1M yesterday. Will Doctor Strange dash past Thor 2 by tomorrow? It doesn’t look like it, as rivals have their estimates in sync with Disney’s. The studio says that out of the Marvel movies distributed by Paramount and the Burbank lot, they’ve got a 14-for-14 record when it comes to notching No. 1. Imax contributed $12.2M off 380 hubs to Doctor Strange‘s bank account. A big comeback for 3D, which fueled 47% of Doctor‘s billings with $24M made from RealD screens stateside.

Big exit poll grades here for Doctor Strange on ComScore’s PostTrak exit polls with a 91% total positive and a super 73% recommendation rating. The Benedict Cumberbatch movie drew 61% males, 39% female with 58% of the audience over 25. On Friday night, CinemaScore also saw a 60/40 male to female split with 56% coming out because it’s a Marvel supehero movie and 31% of the crowd shelling out because they’re Cumberbatch fans.

In what appears to be an anomaly weekend, all of the new wide releases earned solid A CinemaScores and were fueled by great certified fresh reviews, with Doctor Strange at 90%, Trolls at 74%, and Hacksaw Ridge at 87%. In sum, very strong starts for all three films as they continue through to Thanksgiving.

trolls-2

Trolls FSS rallied past its expectations, which were in the $30M range. Rival studios also see Trolls around that number. Trolls drew an 80% total positive and a 60/40 female-to-male split which, of course, means moms led the charge to the multiplex. 52% were under 25. Kids under 12 at 67% said that they’ll definitely give a thumbs up for Trolls to their friends. On CinemaScore sheets, the under 18 (40%) and under 25 (46%) demos gave Trolls an A+. 3D was close to 24%.

Justin Timberlake, Trolls music EP and voiceover, attended Deadline’s Contenders event yesterday and spoke about the hit single “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” one of the four songs he wrote for the film. According to Timberlake, DWA chief Jeffrey Katzenberg rang him a number of times to join the production. I hear that it was Katzenberg’s genius foresight to drop “Can’t Stop the Feeling” on May 14, when DWA was showing off clips and touring Timberlake around to the global media at the Cannes Film Festival. The song’s success with 379K downloads in its first week repped a career high for Timberlake, beating his first week 315K sales of “Suit & Tie.” In a month’s time on the U.S. airwaves it reached 163M people. It’s just another testament to how music continues to be a strong ancillary when propping a pic’s profile. Quite often in the digital millennial age, the grand assumption is that soundtracks and hit singles from movies have waned greatly. Think again.

This morning, Aronson also gave a shoutout to Fox’s Marc Weinstock and DWA’s Jim Gallagher for leading the charge on a brilliant marketing campaign for Trolls. On the press side, we’ve been hearing about DWA’s latest since CinemaCon in March.

hacksaw-ii

Lionsgate is calling Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, which was co-financed by Cross Creek for $40M (LG got a distribution fee), in third place with $14.75M at 2,886. Rivals believe it’s higher, north of $15M. We’ll know more tomorrow after we survive NFL Sunday. Sources tell us this is a great start for Hacksaw Ridge, and with the Friday to Saturday 16% uptick in ticket sales, it’s clear word of mouth is working for this World War II movie. Gibson also stopped by Deadline’s Contenders event yesterday and you can read about that here.

Hacksaw Ridge earned an A+ with the over 50 demo (47%) — remarkable, as that demographic is severely critical about everything. The few kids at under 18 (4%) and under 25 (13%) who saw the movie also clapped loudly to Hacksaw giving it an A+. Close to a third of the audience who bought tickets did so because it was a Gibson-directed movie (that’s huge) and they even gave Hacksaw an A+. Seventy-two percent went to Hacksaw because it was a World War II movie while Andrew Garfield was accountable for 20% of admissions. CinemaScore’s Friday night report showed an even split between men and women with 88% over 25. PostTrak’s continued weekend polling showed 53% men/47% women, 77% over 25, a 91% total positive score, and a definite recommend of 67%. Adults don’t always make it to the theater during a pic’s opening weekend, and exhibitors would be wise to hold Hacksaw Ridge given the strong tea leaves here. Does Hacksaw beat Deepwater Horizon ($60M) in the long-run at in its domestic B.O.? It’s too soon to tell, but Hacksaw Ridge can look forward to a nice boost on Veterans Day Friday, and any awards bumps will of course send Gibson’s latest higher. We hear that ticket sales were soft in the Northeast and Canada on Friday, but word of mouth spread and picked up yesterday; in sum Hacksaw played outside the heartland.

Top 11 films per studio-reported estimates for Nov. 5-7:

1). Doctor Strange  (SONY), 3,882 theaters / $32.6M Fri. (includes $9.4M previews) /$31.1M Sat./$21.2M Sun./ 3-day cume: $85M /Wk 1

2). Trolls  (DWA/20th Century Fox), 4.060 theaters / $12.3M Fri. (includes $900K previews) /$20.1m Sat./$13.1M Sun./ 3-day cume: $45.6M /Wk 1

3). Hacksaw Ridge  (Lionsgate), 2,886 theaters / $5.3M Fri. (includes $750K previews) /$5.9M Sat./$3.5M Sun/ 3-day cume: $14.7M/ Wk 1

4). Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween  (LG), 2,234 theaters (-65) / $2.1M Fri.  /$3.7M Sat./$1.97M Sun./ 3-day cume: $7.8M (-55%) / Total cume: $65M / Wk 3

5). Inferno  (SONY), 3,576 theaters / $1.88M Fri.  /$2.75M Sat./$1.6M Sun./ 3-day cume: $6.25M (-58%) / Total cume: $26M / Wk 2

6). The Accountant (WB), 2,688 theaters (-714) / $1.75M Fri. /$2.6M Sat/$1.58M Sun./3-day cume: $5.95M (-30%) / Total cume: $70.9M / Wk 4

7). Jack Reacher: Never Go Back  (PAR), 3,079 theaters (-701) / $1.6M Fri.  /$2.4M Sat./$1.48M Sun./ 3-day cume: $5.58M (-42%) / Total cume: $49.2M / Wk 3

8). Ouija: Origin of Evil  (UNI), 2,380 theaters (-788) / $1.1M Fri. /$1.78M Sat./$1.12M Sun./ 3-day cume: $4M (-44%) / Total cume: $31.3M / Wk 3

9). The Girl on the Train  (UNI/DW), 1,572theaters  (-1,186) / $829K Fri. /$1.2M Sat./$771K Sun. 3-day cume: $2.8M (-37%)/ Total: $70.7M / Wk 5

10). Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children  (FOX), 1,710 theaters (-1,087) / $500K Fri.  /$975K Sat/$625K Sun/ 3-day cume: $2.1M (-48%) / Total: $83.3M / Wk 6

11.) Moonlight (A24) 83 theaters (+47) $379K Fri.  /$530K Sat/$424K Sun/ 3-day cume: $1.3M (+57%) / Total: $3.1M / Wk 3

NOTABLES:

Loving  (FOC), 4 theaters / $55K Fri. / $67K Sat./$47K Sun/Per screen: $42,2K / 3-day cume: $169K

Write-thru Sat. 7:47 AM after 3rd Update, Friday 9:06PM: Doctor Strange is casting a spell over the masses who are now shelling out an estimated $81M to $83M+ to check out Marvel’s medic at 3,882 theaters, grossing roughly $32.6M last night alone. We have to see the Saturday uptick, TBD. In regards to its opening day, Doctor Strange whips Marvel’s previous November live action title Thor: The Dark World ($31.89M Friday), but as of now it’s behind the hammer-holder’s $85.7M FSS. That said, Doctor Strange‘s A CinemaScore is quite promising (in fact, 75% of the audience gave it an A), so its ticket sales are bound to go higher. Just look at how the superhero’s projections swelled in the last nine hours.

trolls

Similar to Spectre last year with 20th Century Fox’s The Peanuts Movie, Doctor Strange isn’t crushing DreamWorks Animation’s family offering Trolls which is looking at an opening day of a little over $12M with a FSS of $42.8M to $43M+. Trolls also gets an A CinemaScore  which means it should have a longer run than previous DWA November titles Bee Movie ($38M) and Megamind ($46M). Those pics respectively received CinemaScore grades of B+ and A-  and final domestic multiples of 3.2x and 3.3x. It is skewing more female (surprise, surprise) and 84% of the total audience last night gave it an A CinemaScore.

hacksaw ridge

In third, it’s Lionsgate/Summit’s Hacksaw Ridge with an estimated $14.5M to $15M, after a $5.2M Friday. That opening may be right up against the debut of Mel Gibson’s previous theatrical directorial, Apocalypto, which opened to No. 1 with $15M. Rivals told us that Hacksaw‘s opening isn’t so bad for this $40M R-rated World War II drama; in fact, it’s fine. Going into the weekend, we had heard to look for a mid-teen possibility. Many were expecting some red state-Bible belt impact on Hacksaw Ridge‘s tickets sales a la Unbroken. But no, and we dive into why further down. Those who showed up to Hacksaw Ridge gave it an A, which adds to Mel Gibson’s growing list of great grades as a director: Passion of the Christ (A+), Braveheart (A-), The Man Without a Face (A).

Couple Hacksaw‘s good word of mouth with its excellent certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes score of 87% and that’s reason enough for exhibitors to hold this movie on screens in the weeks to come. Too often many adult-skewing sleepers these days are pulled off screen as exhibitors fall for titles which have no hope of lasting in theaters for more than two weeks. Especially at this time of year with a slew of awards contenders competing for marquee space, theater owners should think twice as these critically acclaimed movies have much to offer dollar wise in the long run. The audience was split fairly evenly between females and males which is kind of remarkable given the bloody war theme, but Lionsgate kept pushing the love story in their ads and it seems to be paying off. 85% of the total audience gave it an A CinemaScore.

By late August, it was obvious that moviegoers were excited by the good Doctor. RelishMix noticed back then that online trailers were being passed around at a rate of 46 to 1 (mindblowing considering the average tentpole trailer goes viral at a rate of 10 to 1 on social). Heading into its opening week, the viral rate on Doctor Strange settled to 20:1 which is still strong with its most viewed trailer on YouTube being the second one that dropped in July, now clocking close to 22M views. Even though most of the pic’s cast isn’t socially activated, Doctor Strange is bolstered by Marvel and Disney pages pushing the film’s social media universe to a whopping 311.5M. One recent social media highlight was Jimmy Kimmel hiring the superhero M.D. to quell a screaming batch of kids at a birthday party. It has 2.9M views:

google-tilt-brush

In its Doctor Strange marketing, Disney went after tech geeks and fanboys, focusing on 3D visuals, premium formats and the visual spectacle of the film with special screenings, creative messaging, brand partnerships and events including the “Expand Your Mind” one which featured 15 minutes of exclusive footage shown on IMAX in 118+ theaters nationwide. Marvel executed a similar type of IMAX preview prior to Guardians of the Galaxy, leading that deeper universe property to an unexpected $94.3M opening. There were technology partnerships and activations celebrating Doctor Strange in the culture including Twitter stickers, GIPHY content, Facebook Live, Snapchat lense and filters, Tumblr stunt, and Instagram special content. Of note, there was a Microsoft Surface promotional sponsorship highlighting the use of the device in the filmmaking process. There was also a Google Tilt Brush app featuring a “Mixed Reality” stunt with artists across LA, London and Hong Kong, inspired by different dimensions in Doctor Strange and recreating the worlds in VR for an immersive visual experience. More power for Doctor Strange‘s profile this weekend: Cumberbatch is hosting Saturday Night Live.

Scott Derrickson revealed on Twitter in June 2014 that he was attached to direct Doctor Strange based on Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s neurosurgeon character. Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch’s names were immediately in the mix for the lead along with Jared Leto. By Comic-Con 2014, it seemed like Joaquin Phoenix was in serious talks, but by October there was no deal.  By the end of the year, Cumberbatch became a lock. But once again this weekend, Marvel beats D.C. with both the critics and audience groundswell. Many in town attribute this to Marvel president Kevin Feige who knows what clicks when it comes to the brand and its fans (“He knows what works and what doesn’t work. ‘We do this, but we don’t do that'” said one studio marketing chief on Feige’s process).

 Mel Gibson, center, interviews Desmond Doss Jr., the son of Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Desmond Doss, at a screening of the movie "Hacksaw Ridge" at The National WWII Museum, in New Orleans, .
Mel Gibson, center, interviews Desmond Doss Jr., the son of Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Desmond Doss, at a screening of Hacksaw Ridge at The National WWII Museum, in New Orleans.
Shutterstock

After MGM/Paramount’s Ben-Hur died on its sword back in August, faith-based marketers now tell us how the sword and sandal movie missed the mark in spreading the good word to the faithful, and the movie getting it right is Lionsgate’s Hacksaw Ridge.

The mini-major targeted high profile and influential members in Christian churches but also those in the military and political community as well, via an early screening program.

Essentially, Lionsgate was looking to these leaders as early ambassadors. The distributor hosted a special screening at the World War II Museum in New Orleans (presenting the location with Desmond Doss’s Medal of Honor while honoring WWII veterans). Gibson and the cast traveled to Washington D.C., where they honored the military at a USO visit and hosted a VIP screening event at the Navy Memorial. Gibson and the cast made the talk show rounds with GMA, Live, The Tonight Show, Ellen, Late Night, Today, Kimmel and The Late Late Show.

Lionsgate also partnered with several popular online military sites including We Are The Mighty, Military.com, and Rally Point on promoting Hacksaw, including a large presence and screening program at Association Of The United States Army. Overall audience reached 15M. The movie’s TV spot and media campaign kicked off five weeks out timed to the first Presidential debate. There were also promotions during such sporting events as the World Series, NCAA games and Sunday NFL games.

Jack O'Connell in Unbroken

But why is Hacksaw Ridge not posting Unbroken opening figures ($30.6M)? Post American Sniper, many in distribution have this idea that if its about a notable U.S. veteran, plays in red states, and appeals to both the military and faith-based, that the sky is the limit at the box office. “They’re two very different American heroes,” says rival studio distribution boss about Hacksaw Ridge‘s Desmond T. Doss and Unbroken‘s Louis Zamperini, “One was a Conscientious Objector and the other was a P.O.W. and former Olympian.”

Some think that Unbroken was positioned better than Hacksaw Ridge: It opened over Christmas in the heart of awards season, was further propped by glossy mag celebrity director Angelina Jolie, and some in distribution believe more was spent on Unbroken‘s marketing campaign. Also, Zamperini was very much on moviegoers’ minds since he died six months before the movie opened.

Rival distrib chiefs are divided whether Hacksaw should have opened during such a fierce weekend; that next weekend would have been better after TriStar scaled back its release of Ang Lee’s war movie Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (that last minute move would have cost Lionsgate millions in P&A). What Lionsgate gains by launching here is playing into Veterans Day next weekend which kicks off Friday. In addition, the distributor has been aggressive about screening Hacksaw Ridge to the awards community following its Venice Film Festival premiere. And if Hacksaw Ridge beats Apocalypto‘s $15M opening, it will go down as Gibson’s second best domestic debut as director after Passion of the Christ‘s $83.8M FSS.

moonlight

A24’s Moonlight continues to wow in its limited release and stands right outside the top 10 in its third weekend expansion from 36 locations to 83 with a FSS of $1.1M after taking in another $380K last night. Loving, Focus Features’ interracial love story about 1958 couple Richard and Mildred Loving from director Jeff Nichols, has a very good theater average of $45K in four locations, but that’s not as strong as Moonlight‘s opening theater average of $100K from two weeks ago. Moonlight should end its expansion weekend with a nice $13K to $14K per screen. Sony Pictures Classics also launched its documentary The Eagle Huntress which is looking at a FSS theater average near $6K.

NOTEWORTHY: Sony’s Inferno is dropping anywhere between 56% and 59% in its sophomore weekend to make a full cume of only about $25.9M to $26.2M. The Tom Hanks starrer is playing overseas and Sony expects the film will get close to $175M worldwide by tomorrow.

Anita Busch contributed to the Saturday AM update

Top 11 films and some notables as of Saturday morning:

1). Doctor Strange  (SONY), 3,882 theaters / $32.6M Fri. (includes $9.4M previews) / 3-day cume: $81M to $83M+ /Wk 1

2). Trolls  (DWA/20th Century Fox), 4.060 theaters / $12.3M Fri. (includes $900K previews) / 3-day cume: $42.8M to $43M+ /Wk 1

3). Hacksaw Ridge  (Lionsgate), 2,886 theaters / $5.2M Fri. (includes $750K previews) / 3-day cume: $14.5M to $15M / Wk 1

4). Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween  (LG), 2,234 theaters (-65) / $2.1M Fri. (-54%) / 3-day cume: $7.6M to $8M (-56%) / Total cume: $64.9M to $65.2M / Wk 3

5). Inferno  (SONY), 3,576 theaters / $1.8M (-65%) / 3-day cume: $6.1M to $6.4M (-56% to 59%) / Total cume: $25.9M to $26.2M / Wk 2

6). The Accountant (WB), 2,688 theaters (-714) / $1.7M Fri. (-31%) / 3-day cume: $5.7M (-32%) / Total cume: $70.69M / Wk 4

7). Jack Reacher: Never Go Back  (PAR), 3,079 theaters (-701) / $1.6M Fri. (-46%) / 3-day cume: $5.3M (-45%) / Total cume: $48.9M / Wk 3

8). Ouija: Origin of Evil  (UNI), 2,380 theaters (-788) / $1.1M Fri. (-50%) / 3-day cume: $3.7M (-51%) / Total cume: $31M+ / Wk 3

9). The Girl on the Train  (UNI/DW), 1,572theaters  (-1,186) / $833K Fri. (-40%) / 3-day cume: $2.7M (-38%) / Total: $70.6M / Wk 5

10). Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children  (FOX), 1,710 theaters (-1,087) / $502K Fri. (-51%) / 3-day cume: $1.9M (-50%) / Total: $83.2M / Wk 6

11.) Moonlight  (A24), 83 theaters (+47) / $380K Fri. (+20%) / Per screen average: $13K to $14K / 3-day cume: $1.1M (+34%) / Total cume: $2.4M to $2.89M / Wk 3

NOTABLES:

Loving  (FOC), 4 theaters / $55K Fri. / Per screen: $42K / 3-day cume: $170K

The Eagle Huntress (SPC), 3 theaters / $12K Fri / Per screen: $9K to $10K / 3-day cume: $38K / Total cume: $52K / Wk 1

Top 11 films per industry estimates as of Friday evening for the weekend of Nov. 4-6

1). Doctor Strange  (SONY), 3,882 theaters / $32M-$33M Fri. (includes $9.4M previews)/3-day cume: $82M /Wk 1

2). Trolls  (DWA/20th Century Fox), 4.060 theaters / $12.2M Fri. (includes $900K previews)/3-day cume: $42.4M /Wk 1

3). Hacksaw Ridge  (Lionsgate), 2,886 theaters / $5.1M Fri. (includes $750K previews)/3-day cume: $14.7M /Wk 1

4). Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween  (LG), 2,234 theaters (-65) / $2.1M Fri. (-54%)/3-day cume: $7.4M (-57%)/Total B.O.: $64.6M/ Wk 3

5). Inferno  (SONY), 3,576 theaters / $1.9M (-65%)/3-day cume: $6.8M (-54%)/Total cume: $26.6M/Wk 2

6). The Accountant (WB), 2,688 theaters (-714) / $1.7M Fri. (-31%)/3-day cume: $5.8M (-32%)/Total: $70.7M/ Wk 4

7). Jack Reacher: Never Go Back  (PAR), 3,079 theaters (-701) / $1.6M Fri. (-46%) /3-day cume: $5.2M (-46%)/Total B.O.: $48.9M/Wk 3

8). Ouija: Origin of Evil  (UNI), 2,380 theaters (-788)/ $1.1M Fri. (-50%) /3-day cume: $3.5M (-51%)/Total:$30.9M/Wk 3

9). The Girl on the Train  (UNI/DW), 1,572theaters  (-1,186) / $802K Fri. (-42%)/ 3-day cume: $2.6M (-41%)/Total: $70.6M/ Wk 5

10). Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children  (FOX), 1,710 theaters (-1,087) / $509K Fri. (-51%)  3-day cume: $2M (-50%)/Total: $83.3M/Wk 6

11.) Moonlight  (A24), 83 theaters (+47) / $327K Fri. (+17%)/PTA: $11,9k / 3-day cume: $984k (+16%)/Total: $2.7M/ Wk 3

NOTABLES:

Loving  (FOC), 4 theaters  / $60k Fri./ PTA: $45k/3-day cume: $181k 

The Eagle Huntress  (SPC), 3 theaters /$5k Fri/PTA: $5,6k/ 3-day cume: $17K /Total $30K/ Wk 1

2ND UPDATE, 11:54 AM: Doctor Strange is on his way to an estimated $28.3 million-$29 million opening day (including $9.4M previews) and a weekend of low- to mid-$70Ms according to industry sources. That’s what it looks like coming off matinees, and if these figures don’t ease down to below $70M, it will give the Burbank, CA-based studio its second-highest November debut after Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World ($31.89M Friday, $85.7M opening).

Doctor Strange carries an estimated production cost of $165M which is lower than ensembles like Captain America: Civil War ($250M) and Guardians Of The Galaxy ($170M). Before Friday ticket stubs are counted, Doctor Strange already has made close to $145m at the worldwide B.O. Doctor Strange‘s matinees are currently close to 38% of what Captain America: Civil War was generating at the same point in time.

20th Century Fox’s release of  DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls is always showing its teeth with an estimated $11.5M today (including $900K previews) and $40M weekend. This is per non-Fox projections. If it holds that’s above DWA’s Bee Movie ($38M) and below Fox’s release of The Peanuts Movie last year at this time ($44.2M).

The combination of those two films are taking the air out of the rest of the box office with Lionsgate’s Hacksaw Ridge current projections showing $4.5M today (including previews) and $12.5M-$13M for the weekend. Keep in mind, Hacksaw Ridge appeals more to older adults and that demo isn’t always available during a pic’s opening weekend. Hacksaw Ridge has an 87% Certified Fresh Rotten Tomatoes score, and that’s a good thing for a war film like this.

Overall we hear there’s inverse traffic for Hacksaw Ridge and Doctor Strange right now. The Mel Gibson-directed movie is doing great in the Midwest but soft on the coasts, while Doctor Strange is the opposite.

PREVIOUS, 8:33 AM: Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange led the way last night with $9.4 million to kick off what is expected to be the biggest weekend to date at the fall box office. When it comes to the previews for these big tentpoles, Thursday night typically accounts for 30%-35% of Friday’s business.

Compared to other Marvel Thursday nights, Doctor Strange beat Disney/Marvel’s previous November release Thor: The  Dark World, which made $7.1M before notching a $31.89M Friday and $85.7M opening, as well as last summer’s Ant-Man, which grossed $6.4M followed by a $22.6M Friday and a $57.2M FSS.

Unlike the Warner Bros./DC fare earlier this year and 20th Century Fox’s X-Men: Apocalypse which were panned by critics, Doctor Strange is wielding a tremendous amount of power from a 90% certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes score. Projections earlier this week had Doctor Strange opening between high-$60M to $75M.

Fandango yesterday showed advance ticket sales for Doctor Strange besting Thor (opening: $65.7M) and Ant-Man at the same point in their sales cycles. In NRG tracking, first choice is the strongest among men under 25 (34%) and over 25 (31%). Already, Doctor Strange has accumulated $133M at the foreign B.O. China opens today.

The top-grossing Thursday night preview for a Marvel movie belongs to last year’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron which chalked up $27.6M ($84.4M opening day, $191.27M weekend). During the first weekend in May, Disney/Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War made $25M on Thursday before hitting a $75.5M opening day, and $179.1M opening weekend.

TROLLS

DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls via 20th Century Fox kicked off at 5 PM yesterday with a strong $900K evening. That’s above the $650K preview money earned by DWA’s Home and under the $1.4M earned by Disney’s Big Hero 6Home, which was released in March last year, went on to tally a $15.7M Friday, and a $52.1M weekend. Big Hero 6, which also opened during the first weekend in November, grossed $15.8M on its Friday and $56.2M three-day.

Heading into this weekend, tracking estimated Trolls with a high $30M-$45M weekend. Trolls has a 75% fresh Rotten Tomatoes score, which is under the 87% certified fresh of previous DWA titles Kung Fu Panda 3 (87%) but much higher than the middling reviews received by Home (47%).

Lionsgate/Summit has the fifth film directed by Oscar winner Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridgeabout conscientious objector Desmond T. Doss who fought in Okinawa during World War II. Forecasts are wide for this R-rated, blood-filled film ranging from $12M to high teens. Last night, it made $750K from 2,200 locations. The movie expands to 2,886 venues today. Analysts were comping Hacksaw Ridge to Disney’s period thriller The Finest Hours (despite the fact that was a PG-13 movie), and the good news is that Hacksaw blows that pic’s $375K Thursday night away. 2014’s Fury might be a better comp because, like Hacksaw, it’s a R-rated WWII film. That minted $1.2M on Thursday, a $8.8M Friday and $23.7M weekened — but we need to consider the fact it had the star power of Brad Pitt.

Hacksaw Ridge cost an estimated $40M, but it’s a distribution deal for Lionsgate. The distrib currently has an awards-season push for the pic in place after the Andrew Garfield-Vince Vaughn-Sam Worthington movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Gibson will be stopping by Deadline’s The Contenders event tomorrow to talk about the movie.

Among those films already in play at the B.O., Sony’s domestic misfire Inferno was No. 1 with an estimated $905K at 3,576 theaters yesterday with a first week’s cume of $19.8M. Warner Bros’ Ben Affleck thriller The Accountant through three weeks has amassed $64.9M, which is 1% behind Argo‘s three-week run (final B.O. was $136M, which was propped by its awards season), and 4% behind The Town at the same point in time (final B.O.: $92.1M). The move was second last night with $810K at 3,402.

In just two weeks, Lionsgate’s Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween has collected $57.1M beating the nine-week lifetime cume of the filmmaker’s previous Madea movie, 2013’s A Madea Christmas ($52.5M). The comedy made an estimated $700K yesterday on 2,299. After stealing No. 1 away from Inferno in its second weekend with $17.2M, industry projections have Boo! falling 60% this weekend with close to $7M.