November 13, 2016

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 11/13/16


OPENINGS:  The box office was boosted in general by Veterans Day, which gave many Americans a 3-day weekend, but ARRIVAL (FilmNation/Sony/Paramount) was still notably impressive with a $24M weekend at a mid-wide 2317 theatres.  Its word of mouth remains to be seen (it dropped 4% on Saturday), but it seems to be in good position to play through the next several weeks, which will mostly be dominated by younger-skewing blockbusters, giving it a solid shot of profit on production/marketing costs around $125M.  Its international footprint is complicated, because territories were split between Paramount (which has China) and FilmNation, with a few more handled by Sony, but it earned $10.2M in markets that included the UK and Russia.

ALMOST CHRISTMAS (Universal) had a moderate $15.6M start, just over half of the $30.1M opening for The Best Man Holiday, which opened on the parallel weekend in 2013.  That one, of course, was a sequel with more brand value, and it burned off fairly quickly, only reaching $70.5M.  If Almost plays the same way, it may reach $40-45M in the US (it will likely have limited exposure overseas) on $50M or so in costs.

SHUT IN (Europa) barely made a ripple at $3.7M, and although costs were low on both the production and marketing ends, it’s going to lose money for the start-up distributor.

BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK (LStar/Studio 8/TriStar/Sony) had a very limited release in the US before expanding next weekend, with runs in 1 theatre each in NY and LA featuring its precedential 120 frame-per-second format.  Its $60K per-theatre average was uninspiring, considering the premium 3D ticket prices.  (It also had a distinctly worrisome 38% Saturday nosedive, suggesting that the audiences that did show up were front-loaded with curiosity-seekers who didn’t have much good to say about it.)  However, it had a much wider opening overseas in 9 Asian territories, where it earned $13.2M, almost all of it ($11.7M) from China, where 9 theatres featured the 120 fps format.

HOLDOVERS:  DOCTOR STRANGE (Marvel/Disney), helped by the long weekend, dropped just 49% to $43M in its 2d weekend, much better than Marvel’s November 2013 opening Thor: The Dark World, which fell 57% (without a holiday).  That may put Strange on track for $225-250M in the US, although next week’s arrival of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them could derail that to some extent.  As usual with superhero blockbusters, Strange is even stronger overseas, where it’s at $339.6M after a $60.2M weekend.  Worldwide, again with the Fantastic Beasts caveat, it could reach $650-700M, not that far off the $773.3M pace of Guardians of the Galaxy.

TROLLS (DreamWorks Animation/20th) was even better treated by the holiday weekend, down just 25% to $35.1M, far ahead of the holiday-less 46% Weekend 2 drop for The Peanuts MovieTrolls faces direct competition not just from Fantastic Beasts but Disney’s Moana over the next week and a half, but it may still get to $150M or more in the US, compared to $130.2M for Peanuts.  Overseas, it’s at a less thrilling $128.3M after a $18.3M weekend in most of the world.  A $325M worldwide total would be profitable, but perhaps not enough to spawn a franchise.  (DreamWorks killed a Croods 2 sequel this week, despite a worldwide $587.2M total.)

HACKSAW RIDGE (Summit/Lionsgate) was a natural Veterans Day weekend choice for older audiences, and it slipped 29% from last weekend to $10.8M, and seems to be heading for a moderately profitable $50M+ US total.

In the US, THE ACCOUNTANT (RatPac/Warners) continues to be the adult thriller of choice, down a mere 22% in its 5th weekend to $4.6M and on its way to $85M.  Things are leaner overseas, where it’s at $50.9M after a $7.6M weekend.  JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK (Huahua/Shanghai/Skydance/Paramount) dropped 39% to $3.3M in the US, where it should stop at about $60M, but the really bad news is overseas, where it’s at $73M after a $8.6M weekend in 54 territories with just a few major markets to come.  Worldwide, it’s likely to be at least $50M off the pace of the first Jack Reacher‘s $218.3M total.  INFERNO (Columbia/Sony) will be saved by its overseas strength:  in the US, it fell 47% to $3.3M and may not get to $40M, but overseas it’s at $171M after a $8.6M weekend in 61 markets.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Apart from the Billy Lynn opening noted above, the only notable arrival was ELLE (Sony Classics), which is currently playing in NY only, where it has a solid $28K per-theatre average at 2.  The rest of the news was on the expansion front.  MOONLIGHT (A24) continued its rollout to 176 theatres, with a fair $7700 average, and it will try to keep its per-theatre number from dipping too much over the next several weekends.  LOVING (Focus/Universal) widened to 46 with a $11.6K average.  Documentary THE EAGLE HUNTRESS (Sony Classics), now in 31 theatres, averaged an OK $6700.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The thunder will come from FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (Warners), but there will be some attempts to counterprogram, not just with the semi-wide expansion of Billy Lynn, but with teen dramedy EDGE OF SEVENTEEN (STX) and boxing drama BLEED FOR THIS (Open Road).  In addition, two Oscar hopesfuls begin their limited runs, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (Amazon/Roadside) and NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (Focus/Universal).

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."