Veterans Day Weekend Skyrockets At The B.O.: ‘Doctor Strange’ Pushes Disney To Record $2.3B; ‘Arrival’ Soars To $24M – Sunday AM Update


6th Update, Sunday 8AM: The success of this weekend at the box office isn’t about post-election blues, rather it’s about programming a variety of titles in a pre-holiday frame that appeal to varying demos. It’s the ideal set-up that many distribution executives crave. Couple that with a Veterans Day Friday that had over 50% K-12 off and over 30% college, and we have the perfect recipe for an ideal fall weekend at the B.O. as we speed toward Thanksgiving.

Or as one studio executive put it this morning, “What kid who is interested in Trolls gives a damn about the election?”

Turnstile traffic even surprised distribution executives as they were always expected the weekend to be front-loaded. However, overall ticket sales on Saturday surged an estimated 13% over Friday with $62M.

doctor strange

While we were always expecting another Doctor Strange-dominated weekend, which indeed occurred with the Disney/Marvel superhero earning $43M for a $153M cume that’s beating the brand’s previous fall superhero Thor: The Dark World by 6%; what also occurred for the Burbank lot is that it hit a company all-time high of $2.3 billion at the domestic B.O., outstripping its previous 2015 record of $2.278B. What does the Burbank lot have that most others studios do not? Big brands. Disney’s year has been built on the back of four movies that have grossed in excess of $300M–two of them the highest grossing titles of the year, Finding Dory ($486M) and Captain America: Civil War ($408M)–plus the $284.7M carryover of the highest grossing film ever, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. 

Doctor Strange‘s Saturday saw an estimated 18% swell over Friday for $17.6M. PostTrak continues to poll into many films’ second weekends, and the audience for Doctor Strange continues to embrace the superhero with an 83% positive score and a 67% recommend. It also seems like the parents love Doctor Strange more than kids with older folks giving it a 79% recommend to young-in’s 68%. Imax screens provided $5.4M to Doctor Strange‘s second go-round, with 15 of the top 20 locations in the U.S. belonging to the pic’s large format run. Next weekend, those screens segue over to Warner Bros.’ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. 


Of the new crop, Paramount’s Amy Adams extraterrestrial drama Arrival is bigger than we thought with $24M per Paramount, which is $9M higher than where everyone was expecting it to land, and a great start to the actress’ awards contending film that the Melrose lot acquired for a record $20M at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The studio is looking forward to Arrival being a sleeper holiday hit. As we detailed in the previous post, Paramount has been tubthumping this movie since the Summer Olympics, weeks prior to its fall festival tour. ComScore’s PostTrak shows a wider gap between men and women on this film, with guys repping 58% of the audience, 75% over 25. Total positive is 83%.

Paramount’s president of domestic distribution Kyle Davies expounded on Arrival‘s resonance, “This is a movie that has been getting attention since the festival circuit and the critics have been raving about it for months. It has the extraordinary elements of science fiction, but there’s more to it. It has a positive message that explores what’s really important to humanity, as well as a mind-blowing ending that has audiences connecting to it.”

DreamWorks Antimation’s Trolls from 20th Century Fox is posting $35M, which is the same amount of cash minted by DWA’s Madagascar: Escape to Africa in its second frame. Most animated films will ease on average around -40%, which is considered very good. Trolls only slipped -25%. Fantastic. PostTrak shows audiences still giving it an 84% positive score.

Almost Christmas

Universal’s Almost Christmas came in at the top of its projections with $15.56M at 2,376 with an A- CinemaScore. Still fine for a movie that cost $17M, and a tad lower than Will Packer’s previous holiday comedy production This Christmas which opened to $18M, cost $13M before P&A and legged out to $49.1M off an A CinemaScore. Uni is still expecting a healthy run from the comedy. Almost Christmas pulled in 61% African American. Having Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween in the marketplace also shaved $3.55M (8th place) of Almost Christmas. Lionsgate is celebrating that Boo! at $70.4M is Perry’s second-highest grossing film ever after 19 films in 11 years. Perry’s top grossing title remains 2009’s Madea Goes to Jail ($90.5M). Lionsgate also saw the spoils from its World War II title Hacksaw Ridge which made $10.8M in 5th place, down 29%. It was part of the distributor’s plan to capitalize on the Veterans Day holiday given the film’s heroic themes, and that clearly worked here.


This wasn’t EuropaCorp’s weekend at the box office with its horror title Shut In making $3.7M at 2,058, a dismal start to $10M production before P&A. It’s bound to be pulled off marquees before Thanksgiving because there’s too much product coming down the line. On the brighter side for EuropaCorp, many Hollywood marketing executives at the Governors Awards last night were buzzing about that cool trailer the French studio cut for their July 17 space opera Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets to the Beatles song “Because”, certainly more riveting than the teaser dropped for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 which seems to be just resting on the likeliness of its characters. Valerian‘s trailer played before Doctor Strange this weekend alongside GOG 2. 

Brian Brooks will have more on the specialty front. Sony/TriStar/Studio 8 saw a massive per theater of $60K for $120K weekend run at AMC Lincoln Square and Hollywood Arclight’s Cinemrama Dome for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. These venues were outfitted to project the PTSD solider drama per director Ang Lee’s specifications of 4K, 3D and 120 frames per second.

Top 10 films for the weekend of Nov. 11-13 per studio-reported Sunday estimates:

1). Doctor Strange  (DIS), 3,882 theaters / $14.9M Fri. /$17.6M Sat./$10.5M Sun/ 3-day cume: $43M (-49%) /Total cume: $153M/Wk 1

2). Trolls  (DWA/20th Century Fox), 4.066 theaters (+6) / $12.3M Fri. /$14M Sat/$8.8M Sun/ 3-day cume: $35M (-25%) /Total Cume: $94M/Wk 1

3). Arrival  (PAR), 2,317 theaters / $9.38M Fri. (includes $1.45m previews) /$9M Sat./$5.6M Sun 3-day cume: $24M/ Wk 1

4). Almost Christmas  (UNI), 2,376 theaters / $5.9M Fri. (includes $500K previews) /$6M Sat/$3.66M Sun/ 3-day cume: $15.56M/ Wk 1

5). Hacksaw Ridge  (Lionsgate), 2,971 theaters / $3.8M Fri.  /$4.2M Sat./$2.7M Sun/ 3-day cume: $10.8M (-29%)/Total: $32.3M/ Wk 2

6). The Accountant (WB), 2,342 theaters (-346) / $1.5M Fri. /$1.9M Sat/$1.1M Sun/3-day cume: $4.57M (-22%) / Total cume: $77.7M / Wk 5

7).  Shut In  (Euro), 2,886 theaters / $1.41M Fri. /$1.48M Sat/$800K Sun/ 3-day cume: $3.7M/ Wk 1

8.) Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween  (LG), 2,104 theaters (-130) / $1.2M Fri. /$1.6M Sat/$770K Sun/ 3-day cume: $3.55M (-54%) / Total cume: $70.4M / Wk 3

9.) Jack Reacher: Never Go Back  (PAR), 3,079 theaters (-701) / $1.1M Fri. /$1.4M Sat/$825K Sun./ 3-day cume: $3.3M (-39%) / Total cume: $54.6M / Wk 4

10.) Inferno  (SONY), 2,656 theaters (-920) / $1.1M Fri.  /$1.39M Sat/$740K Sun./ 3-day cume: $3.25M (-48%) / Total cume: $31.6M / Wk 3

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Movie


Moonlight (A24) 176 theaters (+93) $422K Fri./$521K Sat/$417K Sun/  3-day cume: $1.36M (+10%) / Total: $4.77M / Wk 4

Loving (FOCUS) 46 theaters (+42) $167K Fri/$221K Sat/$144K Sun/$11,6k pta/3-day cume: $532k (+233%) / Total: $740k / Wk 2

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (SONY) 2 theaters / $56K Fri./$35K Sat./$28K Sun/$60k pta/3-day cume: $120K/ Wk 1

Elle (SPC) 2 theaters/ $15K Fri./$28K PTA/3-day cume: $56k/ Wk 1


5th Writethru , Saturday AM after Friday 11:30PM: Moviegoing is getting quite a boost this weekend thanks to Veterans Day falling on a Friday. Not only are holdovers overindexing, but Paramount’s Arrival is flying past its $15M forecast with an estimated $23.4M. As distribution suits like to say, when there’s a majority of titles appealing to various crowds, it’s an embarrassment of riches.

With students from Kindergarten to college off yesterday, Friday ticket sales from the top 21 titles totaled approximately $55.5M, which is +134% over last year’s Veterans Day which fell on a Wednesday. Still, box office analysts believe the weekend is frontloaded with total ticket sales falling to $52M on Saturday, and $30M on Sunday. Typically, it’s Saturday that’s the highest day in the FSS cycle. Total weekend ticket sales are skyrocketing to $159.5M+, which is 56% ahead of the same FSS a year ago.

Based on early morning estimates, Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange collected $14.9M on Friday taking its 3-day to $43M. That will easily beat the $36.6M second weekend of Marvel’s previous fall superhero movie Thor: The Dark World. By Sunday, Doctor‘s running cume of $153M will be pacing 6% ahead of Thor 2 which finaled at $206.4M.


DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls from 20th Century Fox is looking at $34.8M at 4,066. Because of the holiday yesterday, the movie made $12.2M, just $100K shy of what it minted last Friday (and that included Thursday previews!).  Trolls is bound to whip the second weekend of Fox’s pre-Thanksgiving hit last year The Peanuts Movie which grossed $24M.

Amy Adams - Arrival.jpeg

However, the biggest surprise is coming from Paramount’s alien drama Arrival starring Amy Adams which is now looking at an estimated $23.4M FSS after a $9.3M Friday. This is great news for Adams as Paramount has been seriously tubthumping Arrival  as a best actress bid. Twenty-nine percent of those who arrived at the theater to watch Arrival came because of Adams. That’s a solid draw for a headliner. A few weeks ago, rival distribution executives were rubbing their chins over the prospects of this indie title directed by Denis Villeneuve. Paramount snapped it up at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival for $20M (that includes China and domestic). Forecasts had it opening at $15M, with some projections even lower.  For a film that also comes with an estimated $40M P&A spend per rivals, this is a very good start for Arrival, and the studio is hoping that its 94% certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes score carries the film to even greater multiples this holiday season. CinemaScore is a B, but given the older female appeal of this movie (48%), we could see a better than expected 2.9 multiple which typically comes with that grade. A majority of the audience at 85% was over 25. The 18-24 loved it the most with an A- CinemaScore, but they didn’t show up at 8%.

Arrival is not Gravity, and it isn’t The Martian as far as spectacle goes, rather it’s more emotionally driven at a slower pace, and with a twist. That said, Paramount marketed this movie like it was an every man tentpole, pushing out TV spots during the summer Olympics, the World Series, Presidential Debates, the Walking Dead season premiere and NFL games. Arrival had an extensive airport outdoor presence in New York and Los Angeles playing on the title “Arrival.” A slew of festivals – London, TIFF, Fantastic Fest, Chicago Int’l, Philadelphia, Savannah, Spectrefest, and Beyond Fest – fueled critical and awards voter word of mouth. A 24-hour YouTube Masthead featured a :60 spot and drew 235M impressions. This Common Ground video piece, which launched with media support via Facebook and YouTube (1.7M), was in an effort to pull females into the movie:

Almost Christmas

Universal’s Almost Christmas in 2,376 banked $5.9M Friday  (including its $500K Thursday previews) for a FSS of $15.3M, which is absolutely fine for this $17M budgeted African American comedy. A big turnout among older women here at 67% females, 74% over 25 according to CinemaScore. Comparisons are promptly made to The Best Man Holiday which cost the same chunk of change, opened at the same time three years ago and reaped an A+ CinemaScore, a $30.1M opening and a 2.3 multiple final cume of $70.5M. In addition, Almost Christmas is coming in lower than Packer’s This Christmas ($18M), which off of its A CinemaScore, came close to earning $50M. Thus, Almost Christmas’ ending isn’t apt to be as high as its jingle predecessors. There’s also a discrepancy in their Rotten Tomatoes scores: Best Man warmed 69% fresh, while Almost Christmas earned a Rotten 42%. One of the big promo wins for the movie came from the cast’s appearance on Family Feud which according to social media monitor RelishMix yielded 14 YouTube clips that were passed around at a viral rate of 11 to 1 (above average). The hottest YouTube video heading into the weekend was one from Russell Simmons’ digital comedy channel A.D.D. which featured a roundtable chat that clocked 130K-plus views in a day. Almost Christmas was also a part of such consumer-facing events as the American Black Film Festival, Essence Festival and various HBCU Homecomings. Leading into opening weekend, the campaign leveraged unique partnerships and activations with BET, E! and OWN. Hashtags #ItsAlmostChristmaswhen and customized Snapchat filters were part of a strong digital push to kick off the holiday conversation on social media channels.

When it came to Mel Gibson’s WWII epic Hacksaw Ridge, it was Lionsgate’s plan to play into Veterans Day and it’s a distribution plan that is succeeding with a second FSS of $11.5M, down an amazing 24% with a 10-day of $32.9M.

Film Title: Shut In

EuropaCorp’s Shut In  is getting shutdown in 7th place with an estimated weekend of $3.8M at 2,058. Even though it cost $16M $10M before P&A, it’s still not a good start. This is the last project left over from late EuropaCorp chief Christophe Lambert’s regime. Apparently, regional testing went quite well, however, early reviews panned it. And in this year’s horror renaissance of Conjuring 2 and Don’t Breathe at the B.O., critics made all the difference. Nonetheless, we hear that when it came to P&A, it wasn’t prime to throw good money after bad. Still, movieogers didn’t hate Shut In as much as Relativity’s The Disappointments Room (D grade) with the Naomi Watts title getting a C CinemaScore. A PG-13 rating means young women under 25 set their watches to show up with 59% females buying tickets, 54% under 25.  The one silver lining coming out of Shut In this weekend belongs to its screenwriter Christina Hodson, whose screenplay for Transformers spinoff Bumblebee is moving forward at Paramount.

Vin Diesel;Joe Alwyn

Among specialty titles, Sony/TriStar/Studio 8’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk marched into AMC Lincoln Square and Hollywood Arclight’s Cinemarama Dome in 120 fps 4K 3D. Pic easily owns the best theater average of the weekend with $75K (third best so far this year) or an estimated FSS of $150K. These are the only locations in the U.S. that will play the more solid PTSD movie according to director Ang Lee’s visual specifications.  Based on 47 reviews, critics are split over the movie at 47% which raises questions when it expands to 800 venues next weekend. We hear that the movie should play well when it adjusts down to 2D projectors, that the frame rate will still come across. Despite Lee’s tech revolution here, a number of exhibitors didn’t have to upgrade their equipment. Peter Jackson’s 2012 The Hobbit  played in over 1,000 locations that could accommodate the film’s 24 fps rate.

A24’s Moonlight expands from 83 houses to 176 for $1.29M FSS. That’s over $7K per theater with a running cume of $4.7M. Still amazing as it’s -2% in its fourth weekend. At 46 locations, Focus Features’ Loving from director Jeff Nichols posted a strong $10,8K per theater at 46 sites for a $498K second weekend, $706K 10-day running cume. Sony Pictures Classics opened Paul Verhoeven’s Elle at two New York locations for a per theater of $25K, estimated three-day weekend of $50K.

The top 10 films for the weekend of Nov. 11-13 per industry Saturday AM estimates:

1). Doctor Strange  (DIS), 3,882 theaters / $14.9M Fri. (-54%)/ 3-day cume: $43M (-49%) /Total cume: $153M/Wk 1

2). Trolls  (DWA/20th Century Fox), 4.066 theaters (+6) / $12.3M Fri. (0%) / 3-day cume: $34.8M (-25%) /Total Cume: $93.7M/Wk 1

3). Arrival  (PAR), 2,317 theaters / $9.3M Fri. (includes $1.45m previews) / 3-day cume: $23.4M/ Wk 1

4). Almost Christmas  (UNI), 2,376 theaters / $5.9M Fri. (includes $500K previews) / 3-day cume: $15.3M/ Wk 1

5). Hacksaw Ridge  (Lionsgate), 2,971 theaters / $3.8M Fri. (-28%) / 3-day cume: $11.5M (-24%)/Total: $32.9M/ Wk 2

6). The Accountant (WB), 2,342 theaters (-346) / $1.5M Fri. (-14%)/3-day cume: $4.4M (-25%) / Total cume: $77.6M / Wk 5

7).  Shut In  (Euro), 2,886 theaters / $1.4M Fri. / 3-day cume: $3.8M/ Wk 1

8.) Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween  (LG), 2,104 theaters (-130) / $1.2M Fri. (-43%) / 3-day cume: $3.5M (-55%) / Total cume: $70.4M / Wk 3

9.) Jack Reacher: Never Go Back  (PAR), 3,079 theaters (-701) / $1.1M Fri. (-30%) / 3-day cume: $3.3M (-39%) / Total cume: $54.6M / Wk 4

10.) Inferno  (SONY), 2,656 theaters (-920) / $1.1M Fri. (-41%) / 3-day cume: $3.25M (-48%) / Total cume: $31.6M / Wk 3


Moonlight (A24) 176 theaters (+93) $420K Fri. (+11%)  3-day cume: $1.29M (0%) / Total: $4.7M / Wk 4

Loving (FOCUS) 46 theaters (+42) $166K Fri. (+202%)/$10,8k pta/3-day cume: $498k (+213%) / Total: $706k / Wk 2

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (SONY) 2 theaters / $56K Fri./$74k pta/3-day cume: $150K/ Wk 1

Elle (SPC) 2 theaters/ $15K Fri./$25K PTA/3-day cume: $50k/ Wk 1


1ST Update, 7:12AM: Paramount’s Amy Adams alien drama Arrival chalked up a notable $1.45M last night at 1,944 locations.

Comparing Arrival‘s Thursday to previous fall sci-fi movies, it inches out the $1.4M made by Gravity on its Thursday night 10PM shows; Arrival‘s began at 7PM.  However, Arrival‘s stubs last night are lower than The Martian‘s $2.5M Thursday. But many aren’t currently expecting Arrival to do Gravity ($55.8M) or Martin ($54.3M) openings, rather a three-day in the vicininty of $15M. There’s 52% K-12 schools and 30% colleges off today according to ComScore, so we’ll see how Arrival pans out and whether it was frontloaded. The pic expands to 2,317 today. Matinees should see a bump today, indeed Thursday pics saw percent increases in their ticket sales over Wednesday.

Paramount keeps comping Arrival to Bridge of Spies, which made $500K on its Thursday, which is odd, because that’s a movie for older men (57% males, 86% over 25). It’s not the older demo that’s in question of showing up for Arrival, rather women are stoked by this film’s mother-daughter emotional storyline, so you have to figure that more of them will show. Per tracking, the sci-fi film is predominantly notable in first choice among males (5%) and older females over 25 (5%).  Paramount acquired U.S. and China rights out of the Cannes Film Festival two years for this Denis Villeneuve movie at a record price of $20M. Pic’s production cost is an estimated $47M, financed by Lava Bear and FilmNation, the latter also handling foreign sales. Sony has several countries abroad.

Film Title: Almost Christmas

Universal’s family comedy Almost Christmas from writer/director David E. Talbert and producer Will Packer unwrapped $507K at 1,885 venues with showtimes starting at 7PM. The movie is expected to gross in the low to mid-teens.

EuropaCorp has the Naomi Watts thriller Shut In opening this weekend in 2,050 with an eye on $7M-$9M. Pic didn’t have any previews last night. Shut In, a 2012 Black List script, was written by Christina Hodson. It’s directed by BAFTA award winner Farren Blackburn, and stars Naomi Watts and Jacob Tremblay and tells the story of a widowed child psychologist who lives isolated in rural New England. She gets caught in a deadly winter storm, and must find a way to rescue a young boy.

Meanwhile, Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strangewhich is expected to reign atop the box office in its second weekend with $40M-$42M, made $6.2M (+22% from Wednesday) at 3,882 for a week’s cume of $110.1M.

20th Century Fox’s Trolls ranked second yesterday with $2.8M (+62% from Wednesday) at 4,060 and a week’s cume just shy of $59M. It is expected to hold greatly in its second sesh with an estimated $30M.  

Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge spiked 17% from Wednesday for an estimated Thursday of $1.57M at 2,886 and a seven-day total of $21.5M. Lionsgate/Summit is hoping that the WWII movie strikes a nerve with moviegoers today.


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