November 12, 2016

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Arrival” Overperforms, But “Strange” & “Trolls” Take Veterans Day


Veterans Day isn’t considered one of the major Hollywood holidays, but this year it provided some 3-day weekends that boosted Friday numbers (although that may catch up with some totals over the weekend and when next week is compared to it).

The other note for the weekend is that all three of the major openings had smaller than usual releases at under 3000 theatres.  That made the $8.9M Friday (including $1.5M from Thursday night)–according to preliminary numbers at Deadline–for ARRIVAL (FilmNation/Paramount) particularly impressive at a mere 2317 theatres, about 60% of a typical wide break.  Paramount didn’t acquire worldwide rights for Arrival (although it does also have China), so its US return will be key to profitability on costs that probably total around $80M.  That’s not a huge number, but Arrival is an unusually thoughtful piece of sci-fi that’s aimed at an older audience than the genre norm, so this is a strong start that should give the film a $23M weekend.  Like everything else in the market, it will be challenged by next week’s Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, but its older audience could still give it box office legs.

ALMOST CHRISTMAS (Universal) had a promising $6.1M Friday (including $500K from Thursday night) at 2376 theatres that should bring it to $15M by Sunday.  With $45M in costs (it will likely have a small international footprint which will limit marketing costs), it should be moderately profitable if it can play deeper into holiday season.

SHUT IN (Europa) describes the potential audiences for this thriller, who didn’t show up to its 2886 theatres, limiting Friday to $1.5M and a probable struggle to reach $4M for the weekend  Costs were low, probably $30-40M, but little of what was spent will be recouped.

With no new blockbusters showing up, the day belonged to its holdovers.  DOCTOR STRANGE (Marvel/Disney) benefited from the Friday holiday with a $14.9M day, down a moderate 54% from last Friday.  That was far better than the 67% Friday-to-Friday drop for Thor: The Dark World, the last Marvel movie to open in November (but which didn’t have a holiday on its 2d Friday).  Strange should have a $40M weekend, down 53% from last week, although as noted next weekend may be more challenging.  Still, its US total should be $200-225M, putting it in 3rd place among Marvel origin movies behind Iron Man and Guardians Of the Galaxy.

TROLLS (DreamWorks Animation/20th) was also helped by the day’s closed schools, giving it a 12.1M Friday that was virtually even with last week’s opening.  Things will steady over the weekend, but it should still end up at $36M or so, down just 25% from last week.  That puts it several strides ahead of last November’s The Peanuts Movie, which had a (non-holiday) 54% drop on its 2d Friday, and a 46% decline for its 2d weekend.  That could put the ultimate Trolls US total at $150M+, depending on how much it’s disrupted by Fantastic Beasts.

HACKSAW RIDGE (Summit/Lionsgate) was a natural film to see on Veterans Day, and even though its audience is older than school age, it dropped a very moderate 28% from last Friday to $3.8M, putting it on track for a $11M weekend and a US total that should be $50M+.

Older titles were led by THE ACCOUNTANT (RatPac/Warners), down 14% from last Friday to $1.5M, for a $4.5M weekend and eventual $85M US total.

If a technological tree falls in a tiny forest of 2 NY/LA theatres, how much impression does it make?  The ground-breaking 120 frames-per-second release of BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK (Bona/Studio 8/TriStar/Sony)–which to one set of eyes gave the film a disconcerting mix of remarkable intimacy and jarring staginess–is heading for a per-theatre weekend average of $75K, a number that becomes less impressive when the 3D premium ticket prices are figured into the calculation.  The film is due to widen to around 1000 theatres next weekend, but those will be in the normal 24 fps format.

MOONLIGHT (A24) continued its steady expansion to 176 theatres for what should be a $7000 weekend per-theatre average.  That’s considerably off the pace of last year’s Spotlight, which maintained a $5900 average even when it was at 598 theatres, but it’s much better than the $2400 average Room had at 160.  Moonlight will face its own challenge next weekend when Manchester By the Sea begins its limited release.  LOVING (Focus/Universal) also expanded, to 46 theatres, for an OK $10K weekend average.

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."