It’s been quite a ride for Arrival, the sci-fi movie starring Amy Adams that Paramount scooped up close to three years ago at the Cannes Film Festival for a record $20 million. As we forecasted last month, the Denis Villeneuve-directed movie was destined to hit the century mark before Oscar night, becoming the third Best Picture nominee this year to do so after 20th Century Fox’s Hidden Figures (currently $146.9M) and Lionsgate’s La La Land ($136.2M).
For Adams, Arrival is the eighth movie of her career to sail past the $100M domestic mark, a list that includes such films as Batman V. Superman, Man Of Steel, Night At The Museum 2, American Hustle, and Enchanted among others. For Villeneuve, its the first title on his resume to hit that benchmark stateside.
In a Paramount fall release schedule that included a Tom Cruise sequel (Jack Reacher: Never Go Back), a high concept R-rated Christmas comedy with a cast that rivaled It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World (Office Christmas Party), a Brad Pitt World War II movie (Allied) and a Martin Scorsese passion project (Silence), Arrival with its emotional mother-daughter and extraterrestrial storylines beat them all at the box office with a near-$200M worldwide take, and at the Oscars with eight nominations including Best Picture and Director.
Paramount always knew Arrival was its diamond in the rough, and launched it during the fall film festival triad of Venice-Telluride-Toronto. Critics were promptly on board embracing the alien drama with a 94% certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes score. Women were always expected to be a shoo-in for this film, but it also pulled in the guys too with 58% males according to Screen Engine/ComScore’s PostTrak. But there was also a sizable chunk of those under 25 who repped 47% of the audience. It wasn’t uncommon during the Thanksgiving stretch to see groups of middle-school kids attending Arrival, who were also wowed upon leaving the theater. The film appealed to a wide demo with 47% Caucasian, 23% Hispanic, 16% African Americans and 13% Asian.
The movie beat its $15M tracking figures for a $24M opening that propelled it through a crowded holiday season, which is marvelous considering ti was squished on the November calendar between two big fall tentpoles: Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange, which opened the weekend prior to Arrival, and Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them which debuted the weekend after.
Why did Arrival click with audiences? Producer Aaron Ryder told us at the PGA Awards that the movie emotionally connected with people at just the right time when our nation seemed to be falling apart post-Donald Trump’s presidential upset.
Said Ryder, “You have to look when Arrival was first released. It was the week of the election. It was a moment when people wanted to go out, and this provided an incredibly timely message about communication and miscommunication, and people working well together. Timing helped us in some ways. It felt like Arrival hit the zeitgeist.”