Post-Election Box Office Spreads the Love
By John Hamann
November 13, 2016
The movies this weekend acted as the warm blanket following an intense and controversial election campaign, and many sought comfort at theaters.
Following the weekend where Doctor Strange broke a long streak of futility at the box office, new releases were not built to be number one; they were built to "fill in" demographic holes in order to find success. The biggest new release this weekend is Arrival, a sci-fi thought-piece starring Amy Adams, which is aimed more at the Inception crowd than the Independence Day audience. Also opening were Almost Christmas, an urban comedy from uber-producer Will Packer, and Shut In, a poorly made thriller with Naomi Watts, looking to recapture what went down in The Ring. Add decent holdover results from Doctor Strange, Trolls and Hacksaw Ridge, and we have ourselves a weekend.
The number one film of the weekend is Doctor Strange, repeating on top after dominating last weekend with $85.1 million. On its second Friday, Doctor Strange continued to excel, earning $15.1 million. While that was off 54% from the Marvel behemoth’s first Friday amount of $32.6 million, it’s important to keep in mind that Doctor Strange also earned $9.4 million from Thursday previews last weekend, throwing off any percentage drops. Doctor Strange’s first Friday – without the previews – came in at $23.2 million, which makes the comparison look much better. Part of the assist came from Veteran’s Day on Friday, where some were out of school or off work, opening the door for the box office, especially for films aimed at the younger demographics.
Over the weekend proper, Marvel’s Doctor Strange managed $43 million, off a not bad 49% compared to its opening weekend. The best comparison has to be Thor: The Dark World, as that is the only Marvel film released in November. Thor 2 fell 57% in its second weekend, moving from an $85.7 million opening to a $36.6 million second frame. The Dark World went on to earn $206 million, and Doctor Strange should do much better. Reviews and Cinemascores were better than the Thor sequel, and I see Doctor Strange playing longer into the holiday season. So far, the $165 million budgeted Marvel/Disney release has earned $153 million stateside, and has pulled in another $340 million overseas.
Not to be outdone, Trolls also holds its number two spot versus three openers and has a stellar hold on Veteran’s Day, setting it up for a decent weekend. With a lot of kids out school, Trolls earned a wild $12.2 million – off only 1% from its opening Friday. Its second Friday acted as a Saturday, but removed the chance of a big multiplier compared to its Friday gross. The DreamWorks Animation and Fox release ended up with $35.1 million over the weekend, giving it a decent drop of only 25%. This is exactly what this film needed, as after a $46.6 million opening frame, it had a long way to go to match its $125 million production budget. Trolls now has a domestic gross to date of $94 million, and it has picked up over $125 million at the overseas box office. With a target worldwide gross of $375 million, Trolls appears to be on its way to reaching that figure.