Marvel Studios must be feeling pretty pleased with their decision to bring Dr. Stephen Strange to big screen right now. The way Doctor Strange is currently tracking suggests that the good doctor is set to become the second most successful single-character MCU movie yet (after 2008’s Iron Man). Not only did it take a better than expected drop-off of just 49% on its second weekend, the film’s impressive performance overseas has meant its overall gross is currently just shy of $500 million.
Doctor Strange also continues to swell Disney’s purse as they carry on with their record year. With Star Wars: Rogue One and new animation Moana due within the next month, Disney is on track to surpass $8 billion in worldwide gross for the year. It’s almost inevitable that the House of Mouse’s unrivaled success will be debated heavily as to whether it’s a positive or not, but there can be little doubt the distributor is the biggest preventer of entropy creeping into cinema in an increasingly competitive landscape for entertainment.
One would think now the election is finally over and with the bitterness surrounding it only increasing online after the result, people would have had enough of trolls for the time being. Well, not according to this week’s figures as Dreamwork’s Trolls only dropped off by 25% after its surprisingly big opening last weekend to comfortably finish in second place with $35 million. While the animation continues to surprise and delight its distributors, 20th Century Fox, it won’t be giving Disney/Pixar too many sleepless nights currently as Trolls is tracking some way behind mega-hits like Finding Dory and Zootopia. But it does go to show once again that CGI animation is responsible for some of the strongest tent poles in the industry in recent years.
Finishing the weekend comfortably in third place with $24 million is Paramount’s celebrated sci-fi film, Arrival. The current FOTY elect was just about on target for a curtailed wide release and maybe throwing its net further would have reaped considerably more in hindsight thanks to almost universal rave reviews for Denis Villeneuve’s cerebral alien visitation flick. However, it isn’t generating quite so much enthusiasm with audiences as its Cinemascore rating of ‘B’ seems out of synch with the praise lavished on the film by critics. This does raise one or two questions about the longevity of Arrival‘s appeal but it would be a surprise if it dropped off by more than 35% next week and with a production budget of just $47 million, this should see the project finish comfortably in the black by the end of its run.
Another new release followed in fourth place as Universal’s Almost Christmas surpassed many expectations to finish the weekend with just over $15 million. It seems some seasonal cheer was more in demand than anticipated and given its holiday theme Almost Christmas is likely to sustain a visible box office presence for a good few weeks yet. And rounding off the top 5 is Lionsgate’s Hacksaw Ridge. In what has proved to be a very good weekend indeed for holdovers, Mel Gibson’s tough WWII film was on trend falling by only 29% to take nearly $11 million.
Overall, the box office was only 17% down on last week as November still compares favorably with its equivalents in recent years. The lack of a Hunger Games movie for the first time in 4 years will undoubtedly leave a huge gap but it is likely to be filled by the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them this Friday. While any Harry Potter was guaranteed a gargantuan opening, this will be the first expansion to J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world without The Boy Who Lived so a huge haul this weekend won’t be being taken granted. However, initial reviews are indeed “Fantastic” and you can see if we think likewise in our full review for Fantastic Beasts this Friday.