Weekend Box Office (November 4 - 6, 2016)
THIS WEEKEND Moviegoers nationwide escaped the anxiety-inducing drama of the final days of the presidential election by flooding multiplexes and spending over $145M on a trio of new releases which pumped well-needed energy into the box office.
Opening at number one in spectacular fashion was the Marvel super hero film Doctor Strange which launched with an estimated $85M from 3,882 theaters for a scorching $21,893 average. Over half of the sales came from premium-priced options like IMAX, PLF, and 3D as fans felt it was worth it to spend more for an enhanced experience. The film's dazzling visual effects drove the extra spending and Marvel has enjoyed number one openings for all 14 of their films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe dating back to 2008's Iron Man.
Strange delivered one of the best performances ever for a super hero origin story beating the first films of Captain America, Thor, Ant-Man, Hulk and others. That's remarkable given how the character is not as well-known as most of those others. Reviews were fantastic and the Benedict Cumberbatch hit earned a glowing A CinemaScore grade, as did the other two new releases this weekend.
Studio data showed that the sorcery pic attracted an audience that was 58% male and 67% over 25. The weekend began with an opening day Friday of $32.6M including $9.4M from Thursday night pre-shows. Saturday dipped by a remarkably low 4% to $31.2M. Sunday is projected to fall 32% to $21.2M. The daily flow was similar to 2013's Thor: The Dark World which also bowed in early November capturing a similar $85.7M over three days. For Doctor Strange to be in the same neighborhood as a sequel from the established Avengers team is incredible.
Strange began its worldwide roll-out a week earlier and this weekend's international gross came in at a robust $118.7M from 53 markets including a stellar $44.4M opening weekend in China. That puts the offshore cume at $240.4M with the top holdover being Korea at $30.4M. Overall, European and Asian markets saw second weekend drops that were a little lower than for past super hero movies as word of mouth is quite good. With global at $325.4M and rising quickly, a final north of at least $700M seems likely.
Playing well to family audiences was the DreamWorks Animation comedy Trolls which bowed to an estimated $45.6M from 4,060 sites for a solid $11,232 average. The PG-rated pic debuted better than the last offering from the animation studio, Kung Fu Panda 3, which launched with $41.3M. Toons opening in early November usually finish with three to four times their opening weekend gross and with high audience scores, the road ahead looks promising.
The marketing push from Fox and brand partners has been in high gear and kids responded to the humor, color, and music. October saw no new animated films enter the marketplace so the target audience was ready for an event film of this genre. More international markets launched in its third round with the offshore cume hitting $104M for a global tally to date of near $150M.
Mel Gibson was back in the top ten with his directorial project Hacksaw Ridge which enjoyed a good opening with an estimated $14.8M from 2,886 locations for a $5,111 average. Lionsgate earned good reviews for the R-rated military story which is playing as counter-programming for more serious-minded adults not interested in cartoons or super heroes. Audience feedback has been very positive. It's been 14 years since Gibson has anchored a number one hit as an actor. That film was 2002's Signs.
Two-time champ Boo! A Madea Halloween fell a sharp 55% to an estimated $7.8M now that the holiday has passed. Lionsgate has banked $65M to date and later this week the comedy will become the second highest grossing film all-time for director Tyler Perry after Madea Goes To Jail. His top four career hits are all Madea flicks.
Tom Hanks saw his latest film Inferno follow its lackluster debut with a steep second weekend tumble. The Sony release declined by 58% to an estimated $6.3M for a weak cume of $26.1M. Compared to the previous films in the franchise, Inferno is running a troubling 68% behind 2009's Angels & Demons and a staggering 81% behind 2006's The DaVinci Code. Inferno should end at about $40M and will become the first 3,000+ theater release ever for Hanks to not break the $100M mark.
Warner Bros. followed with The Accountant with an estimated $6M, off only 30%, for a $70.9M cume. Tom Cruise saw a 42% drop for his action sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back with an estimated $5.6M and a $49.2M cume.
Ouija: Origin of Evil grossed an estimated $4M, down 44%, for a $31.4M total. Universal's other title The Girl on the Train fell 37% to an estimated $2.8M for $70.7M to date. Miss Peregrine rounded out the top ten with an estimated $2.1M, down 48%, putting Fox at $83.3M.
Just outside the top ten was indie sensation Moonlight which has fared incredibly well during its expansion over the last three weeks. Widening to 83 locations, the A24 film took in an estimated $1.3M for a solid $16,048 average. Reviews and word of mouth have been exceptional and while many indies fizzle out when expanding across the country, Moonlight has been holding its own with $3.1M to date and much more to go as it keeps adding more theaters. Platforming to terrific results in four locations was the inter-racial drama Loving with an estimated $169,000 for a strong $42,250 average. Reviews have been very positive and Focus will expand in the weeks ahead.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $179.8M which was up 21% from last year when SPECTRE debuted at number one with $70.4M; and up 26% from 2014 when Big Hero 6 opened in the top spot with $56.2M.
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Compared to projections, Doctor Strange, Trolls, and Hacksaw Ridge all opened ahead of my respective forecasts of $71M, $39M, and $11M.
Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Arrival, Almost Christmas, and Shut In all open.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: November 6, 2016 at 2:45PM ET
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