Sunday, November 6, 2016

Doctor Strange Casts A Spell Over the Box Office While Trolls Have A Hair-Raising Opening Weekend And Audiences Show Loving Some...Money

Well, after so many box office bombs, something's finally going right for Marvel Studios at the box office, as one of their movies for once may actually make some money at the box office. All snarking aside, Doctor Strange had a mighty strong opening weekend, grossing $84.9 million in its bow, only $600,000 beneath the debut of the only other Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to debut in November, Thor: The Dark World. It's also the biggest sub-$100 million opening weekend for a 2016 movie and the third biggest November opening weekend ever for a movie that doesn't belong to the Harry Potter, Twilight or Hunger Games franchises.

At this point, it's no shocker to see Marvel Studios turn one of their D-list comic book properties into a major hit movie. The marketing for Doctor Strange was strong, its lead actor (Benedict Cumberbatch) has a notable following that responded positively to the prospect of him as a superhero and the unique visuals in the trailers and posters made it stand out from any other recent blockbuster that isn't Inception. It didn't hurt that there's been a dearth of big-scale all-ages blockbusters in the marketplace and Doctor Strange fit that description perfectly.

So, how is Doctor Strange gonna hold from here? Looking back on past early November blockbusters, Thor: The Dark World did about 2.41 times its opening weekend to gross $206.3 million domestically, but that one faced intense competition in its third weekend from the biggest Hunger Games movie (Catching Fire) and weak word-of-mouth. Just last year, Spectre managed to do about 2.85 times its opening weekend to gross $200 million domestically, and a similar multiple may be in order for Doctor Strange, especially since this years pre-Thanksgiving blockbuster (Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them) won't be as financially formidable as past pre-Thanksgiving hits like the last three Hunger Games movies. We'll see where it goes in the weekends to come, but Doctor Strange should have no trouble easily getting past $200 million domestically, and with great foreign numbers on its side, this one's already looking like a magical box office winner.

Also opening this weekend was Trolls, which racked up solid sums of cash, $45.6 million to be precise. Among early November animated family movie debuts, that's ahead of the $44.2 million bow of The Peanuts Movie from just last year and just $400,000 behind the $46 million debut of fellow DreamWorks Animation title MegaMind. It's also the second-biggest non-Twilight opening weekend ever for Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake's second-biggest opening weekend ever behind another DreamWorks Animation film, Shrek The Third. It's also worth mentioning that Trolls had the biggest opening weekend ever for a movie opening against a Marvel Cinematic Universe film, beating out the $30.5 million debut of The Happening from way back in 2008 for that honor.

These last few years have been, well, rough is a mild way to put, but yeah, let's say rough for DreamWorks Animation. The Croods and How To Train Your Dragon 2 were the only money-makers in a six film period that began with Rise Of The Guardians and ended with Penguins Of Madagascar. Then, back in March 2015, Home actually signaled a turn-around for them, grossing $52 million in its debut and grossing $177.3 million in its domestic run. Trolls is now the third movie in a row for DreamWorks to gross over $40 million in its opening weekend and earlier this year Kung Fu Panda 3 became only their twelfth movie ever to gross over $500 million worldwide earlier this year. I actually don't think there's anyway DreamWorks Animation ever reclaims their former status as a titan of American animation, but Trolls is at least another sign that they're in a far more stable state than they were even two years ago. Now let's see how these Trolls hold up against Fantastic Beasts and Moana in the weeks ahead cause typical early November animated family movies (namely MegaMind and The Peanuts Movie) don't hold on very well at the domestic box office compared to typical family films released at other times of the year.

Mel Gibson returned to theaters this weekend with his newest directorial effort Hacksaw Ridge, which grossed $14.7 million in its opening weekend, which is the twelfth biggest opening weekend ever for a World War Two movie and 2% below the $15 million bow of Gibson's last movie Apocalypto. With strong reviews and an A CinemaScore, it looks like there's a lot of positive buzz surrounding Hacksaw Ridge and it'll be interesting to see how it holds up in the coming weeks as a bunch of new adult-skewing dramas drop.

Boo! A Madea Halloween actually held on rather well this weekend considering the holiday it's centered on (Halloween) has come and gone. The newest Madea movie grossed another $7.8 million, a 55% decrease from last weekend, a smaller third-weekend decline than the 57% third weekend drop of Madea's Big Happy Family. Boo! A Madea Halloween has now grossed $64.9 million in 17 days and will become Lionsgate's biggest movie of 2016 by tomorrow.

Inferno had a sharp decline in the face of Doctor Strange, losing 58% to gross another $6.2 million, though, to be fair, that's not too far off from the second-weekend drops of its predecessors (The Da Vinci Code lost 56% in its second weekend). Inferno has grossed only $26 million in ten days. By contrast, The Accountant had a fantastic hold in its fourth weekend of release, dipping only 30% to add $5.9 million to its domestic cume that now stands at $70.8 million. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back was just outside of the top five in its third weekend of release, grossing $5.5 million (a 42% decline from last weekend) that takes it domestic gross to $49.2 million in 17 days.

Right outside of the top ten in eleventh place was Moonlight, which continued to score impressive box office returns as it steadily expanded its presence as it grossed $1.3 million at 83 locations for a per-theater average of $16,053, the third best per-theater average for any film at the box office. Moonlight is so far considerably out-performing fellow mid-October A24 drama Room (which Moonlight seems to be patterning its slower expansion release pattern after) at the same point, in fact, this is a bigger single weekend than Room ever saw in its release. Moonlight has now grossed $3 million and will doubtlessly expand into more theaters in the weekends to come.

Loving bowed in limited release this weekend to strong results, grossing $169,000 at 4 locations for a per-theater average of $42,250, the fifth biggest per-theater average for a limited release opening weekend in 2016 and slightly ahead of the per-theater average of Brooklyn, which also bowed in the first weekend of November last year. Focus Features plans to expand this one into wide release over the Thanksgiving holiday and it'll be interesting to see how it fares in wider release since, as I said above with Hacksaw Ridge, there's a loooot of adult-skewing dramas opening in the next two weeks. Finally, The Eagle Huntress bowed to decent results, grossing $53,848 at 4 locations for a per-theater average of $13,462.

The Top 12 movies this weekend grossed $182.2 million, making this the biggest 45th weekend of any given year and a whopping 12% increase over the previous weekend (the November 9th, 2012 frame where Skyfall was victorious) to hold that distinction. This is also a whopping 21% increase over the same weekend last year when Spectre was the biggest movie in America.

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