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Box office: Doctor Strange repeats, Arrival invades with solid debut

Marvel Studios’ latest helps Disney tally its biggest box office year on record

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Marvel; DreamWorks Animation; Jan Thijs

Denis Villeneuve’s Amy Adams-fronted sci-fi drama Arrival gets a healthy boost as the awards race heats up, posting a solid debut across its opening weekend. The film landed with an estimated $24 million on a relatively soft $47 million budget. 

The film finishes at No. 3 on the weekend chart, falling behind holdovers Doctor Strange ($43 million) and Fox’s animated Trolls ($35 million), tallying numbers that recall strong openers The Girl on the Train and The Accountant, which hit theaters last month.

Highlighting fall 2016’s weak returns thus far, with its second three-day frame at the top of the chart, Marvel’s Doctor Strange remains the single $100 million-plus grosser in the North American top 20. Its estimated $153 million domestic total additionally boosts Marvel’s parent studio, Disney, to its best year on record, as the Mouse crossed $2.308.4 billion on Saturday. Doctor Strange‘s 49 percent decline from its $85 million opening additionally notches the second best second weekend descent among the last ten Marvel releases. 

Overseas, the Sorcerer Supreme amasses a further $60.2 million, bringing its global total to $493 million from three weekends. $54 million of its worldwide grosses to date come from IMAX-formatted locations, from which it earned an extra $12 million this weekend. 

Though Arrival impressed critics on the festival circuit from Venice to Toronto, the subtle psychological drama, which Paramount marketed as an action-thriller, seemingly missed its mark with polled audiences, as surveyed moviegoers gave the film a middling B grade on CinemaScore. Still, Arrival continues its trajectory as a likely Oscar and Golden Globe contender, with Adams generating some of the best reviews of her career for her leading turn as a linguist communicating with a band of squid-like aliens who invade Earth with a seemingly ominous message for humanity. 

Rounding out the top 5 are the ensemble holiday flick Almost Christmas, which rakes in a strong $15.6 million on a reported $17 million budget (with an A- CinemaScore grade) at No. 4, and Mel Gibson’s directorial comeback Hacksaw Ridge, which stands atop sturdy legs as it drops a mere 29 percent for an estimated second weekend haul of $10.8 million in fifth place. 

Outside the top 10, Naomi Watts’ first foray into the horror genre since 2011’s Dream House stumbles with critics and audiences across its first weekend, pulling in $3.7 million on 2,058 screens, averaging 1,798 per theater and a poor C grade on CinemaScore. 

Sony Pictures

Despite poor critical reception, Ang Lee’s boundary-pushing Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, which had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival in October, registers one of the strongest opening weekend averages of the year, making an estimated $60,000 per location on two screens for a weekend total of $120,000. Only two U.S. theaters are equipped to present the film in its divisive 4K HD, 120 frames-per-second (the industry standard is 24 fps), 3D format, and both locations — the Cinerama Dome at the Arclight in Hollywood and AMC Loews Lincoln Square in New York City — returned stellar numbers for the auteur’s latest: $56,000 on Friday, $35,000 on Saturday, and a projected $28,000 on Sunday. 

Also debuting on the specialty front is Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, which pulls in $56,012 on two screens. The Cannes-premiering thriller received praise from film journalists on Friday, who noted Isabelle Huppert’s starring turn as one of the best of the year thus far. 

Year-to-date box office bounds ahead 4.5 percent as compared to the same period last year. Check out the Nov. 11-13 weekend box office estimates below. 

1. Doctor Strange – $43 million 

2. Trolls – $35 million

3. Arrival – $24 million 

4. Almost Christmas – $15.6 million

5. Hacksaw Ridge – $10.8 million 

6. The Accountant – $4.6 million

7. Shut In – $3.7 million

8. Boo! A Madea Halloween – $3.6 million

9. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back – $3.3 million 

10. Inferno – $3.3 million 

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