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Weekend Box Office: Doctor Strange Spells Box Office Success, Trolls, Hacksaw Ridge Open Strong

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By Chris Kavan - 11/06/16 at 06:31 PM CT

It was a one-two-three finish for the three new movies opening over the weekend and what a punch they delivered. Opening at or above expectations, Doctor Strange, Trolls and Hacksaw Ridge helped the top 12 films to a $182 million total - up 20.4% compared to last year and an amazing 133.6 % compared to last weekend. With that kind of magic, Hollywood is looking at a late fall/early winter run that is going to be much more impressive than the rather dull early fall. The results also helped Disney hit $6 billion world-wide for the first time in the studio's history - with a few big-name films still to come.


While I haven't got the chance to see this yet (but I will - next week), Doctor Strange was an unknown to me. Audiences didn't seem concerned by the overall unknown quantity, as the film opened to nearly $85 million. If you count original single-hero openings, that total is better than the $65 million openings for Thor and Captain America, The Incredible Hulk ($55 million) and Ant-Man ($57 million) and trails only the original Iron Man ($102 million) in that regard. It's the eight-best opening of 2016 and fell just behind Thor: The Dark World ($85.7 million) for November openings. It all points to an impressive debut, especially for an untested hero. It's certainly the best opening for director Scott Derrickson - who made more in three days than he previous films (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Sinister and Deliver Us from Evil) made in their entire runs. It's also some of the best debuts for many of the actors involved. It's 2.61x weekend multiplier also ranks as one of the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. All told, this is going to be a monster of a movie - it will top $200 million for sure - and could get as high as $250 million. World-wide, helped by a $44.4 million in China alone, the film sits at $325.4 million ($24.2 million in IMAX alone). It may 47% of its grosses from 3D theaters and audiences awarded it an "A" Cinemeascore. I expect even with competition from the likes of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them this is going to have an impressive run.


Even if I was a bit dubious about the appeal of Trolls at the box office, thanks to an influx of family audiences (who made up an estimated 72% of the total), Trolls had an impressive debut with a $45.6 million opening. That is ahead of The Peanuts Movie, which hit $44 million on its way to a $130 million total. Its budget is a bit more than the Peanuts gang ($125 million versus $99 million) but on the international front it is doing much better - The Peanuts Movie could only scrape together $116 million outside the U.S in its entire run - Trolls has already hit $104 million in three days. Audiences were fans of this as well, also awarding this an "A" Cinemascore. Most DreamWorks movies tend to make 3x their opening weekend numbers, thus Trolls should settle at nearly $150 million when all is said and done. It has the family audience wrapped up until Disney's Moana drops on November 23rd. This should play well through the Thanksgiving holiday anyways.


Debuting in far fewer theaters than either Doctor Strange or Trolls, Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge still managed to snag a third-place opening with $14.75 million ahead of decent reviews. It joins a long list of adult-targeting films (and a long list of those yet to come) and its chances for success will pretty much be spelled out in the coming weekends as this crowded market gets even more crowded. Audiences were like wise behind this one, awarding it an "A" Cinemascore (which rises to "A+" for those over 50), 68% of that audience coming in over 35 and evenly split between men and women. The pacifist angel of someone entering war could have played off as too political, but it didn't seem to get that blow back as the visceral war scenes and old-school melodrama captured more of the audiences' attention. The $40 million budgeted-picture has a ways to go before becoming profitable, but if it can continue to bring in adult audiences in the long run, it certainly stands a good chance.


Yes, Halloween is well and truly over, but it wasn't all bad news for Tyler Perry's latest Madea film. The 54.7% drop could have been much worse, what with losing out on the holiday and all, but its $7.8 million gives the film a new total of $65 million. It pretty much will only be a day or two before it surpasses Madea's Witness Protection ($65.65 million) to become Perry's second-best highest-grossing film - just trailing Madea Goes to Jail ($90 million). While it will surely start dropping a bit faster, it's still an impressive total and proves that Perry still has a long way to go (and one has to wonder what holiday he has in store next...).


The Tom Hanks/Ron Howard Dan Brown adaptation Inferno rounded out the top five, but it wasn't good news for the latest Robert Langdon adventure. Inferno took a pretty big 58% tumble in its second weekend. After a disappointing opening, that meant the film only hit $6.25 for the weekend and new $26 million total. That looks pretty terrible compared to the first two films and doesn't spell out anything good for its long-term prospects. The $75 million film has, however, benefited from a tidy foreign run where it has hit $185 million worldwide. Thus I'm guessing even if it fails to get much beyond $30-$35 million domestic, it's still looking like it will come out alright in the long run.

Outside the top five: Joining Moonlight (which is now playing in 83 theaters and added $1.33 million jumping into the top 12 in 11th place) on the limited market front was another Oscar hopeful, Loving. The drama following an interracial couple facing prison time for getting married in 1958 in Virginia opened in four theaters with $169,000 for a $42,250 per-theater average. In comparison, eventual multiple Oscar-nominee The Theory of Everything opened in the same weekend in 2014 with a $41,753 per-theater average. Loving has gotten great reviews and response and, much like Moonlight, looks poised to expand as awards season gets in to full swing.

In international news, Finding Dory become the second-biggest film of 2016 with $1.024 billion at the global box office. Meanwhile the under-performing Bridget Jones's Baby hit $202.4 million worldwide - still the lowest-grossing in the series, but arguably much better compared to its domestic performance.

Next week brings us the interesting and adult-leaning sci-fi drama The Arrival, the family comedy Almost Christmas and the horror film Shut In.


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