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New in Theaters November 11: Arrival, Shut In, Almost Christmas

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By Chris Kavan - 11/10/16 at 06:38 AM CT

With Doctor Strange finally bringing life back in to the box office, Hollywood was finally able to put a dreary fall behind them and get things going back in the right direction. I have a feeling things are going to be strange for awhile (and not just because of the result of the election) as the newcomers, led by sci-fi Arrival along with the horror Shut-In and comedy Almost Christmas, don't look to put much of a dent into Marvel's latest super hero. I think the new films will come out alright - I just don't see Doctor Strange losing his throne quite yet.

ARRIVAL By far the most interesting new film of the week is Arrival, in which Amy Adams plays linguistic expert Dr. Louise Banks, who expertise is needed when a series of extraterrestrial spacecraft land around the world and attempt to communicate. Much like Contact (a movie I never truly appreciated but I digress), this is more of a thinking-man's sci-fi film - no explosions or battles - just people trying to cope with what amounts to a global event. Of course, the military is ready to blast these things if they get a whiff of danger, so Adams is put in a very precarious position. It looks cerebral and intriguing. Granted, that doesn't always mean audiences will appreciate it. This is going after the same adult demographic that so many other fall movies have attempted to court (which overall disappointing results) so we'll see if it has any better luck. Co-stars Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlbarg, Forest Whitaker, Tzi Ma, Mark O'Brien and Larry Day. We'll see if those names and the story are enough to spell box office success. I don't think it has a prayer of knocking off Doctor Strange, but it should open relatively strong.

SHUT IN I don't honestly know if Shut In is going to be a bigger draw than Almost Christmas, but I'm giving the Naomi Watts thriller a small bump because it seems that horror, even if it does poorly, always seems to be the better option. It's usually low budget/high returns even if it underperforms. Granted, you can always do bad even for horror (see The Disappointments Room) but, for the most part, the year has been overall good for the genre. In this case Watts plays a mother tending to a wheel-chair bound son (Charlie Heaton) in a remote cabin in rural New England, following an accident that killed her husband and left her son in his current condition. She takes in a young boy (Jacob Tremblay) when a massive storm hits - but when the boy disappears, she becomes convinced there is someone, or something, coming after them. If the film plays more like a psychological thriller, I could see it working but if it's a more straight-forward jump-scare affair, I will be disappointed. In any case, it will probably do middling business, which is about on par for most horror films.

ALMOST CHRISTMAS If sci-fi or horror isn't your thing, why not go for the laughs instead? Once again, we get to focus on a large, dysfunctional family who comes together for the holidays for the first time since the matriarch of this clan died. The family consists of Gabrielle Union, Danny Glover, Jessie T. Usher, Nicole Ari Parker, Omar Epps, Mo'Nique, J.B. Smoove and Romany Malco, That means they are going for a largely African-American audience and, with the success of the latest Madea film, director David E. Talbert could have a solid hit on his hands. It remains to be seen if this can attract more of a general audience like Boo! A Madea Halloween has done or if it will play to its targeted crowd. The timing feels a bit early (this seems like more of an early December film in my opinion) but that also means it could have longer legs due to the upcoming holiday season. We'll just have to wait and see if this comedic gamble pays off.

Those are your weekend warriors coming out. Doctor Strange will have the biggest test from the Arrival, but I think Marvel will ultimately win out in the end.


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