3rd Update, 5:25PM: With a bulk of kids off from kindergarten to college today, Friday is expected be front-loaded at the box office. One tracking source says that if you break down the weekend’s projected total tickets sales, the highest day is apt to be today with $52M, then ease to $50M tomorrow. Typically, it’s Saturday that’s the highest day in the weekend cycle.

Doctor Strange and Trolls have widened the space between them, with the Disney/Marvel title’s second sesh projected between $36M-$40M at 3,882 venues, and DreamWorks Animation’s hairy guys at $33M in 4,066. By Sunday, Doctor Strange could be as high as $150M, $5M more than the 10-day running cume of 2013’s Thor: The Dark World (final domestic $206.4M) with Trolls just under $92M, 12% ahead of Fox’s The Peanuts Movie last year.


But here’s where the big movement is taking place: Paramount’s Arrival, which is overperforming with a three-day between $18.5M-$22.5M. Should it hit the high end of that figure, it would be a great start for the Amy Adams alien drama, for which the Melrose lot shelled out $20M at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival when it was titled Story of Your Life, and another $40M in P&A, per industry sources. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 94% Fresh, which could bode well for its legs this holiday season. Arrival is looking at $8M-$9M today, which includes its $1.45M Thursday.

Universal’s Almost Christmas in 2,376 is currently banking on $6M-$7M for today (including its $500K Thursday previews) for a FSS of $16M-$18.5M, again well ahead of the low- to-midteens that tracking was observing.

Lionsgate/Summit’s Hacksaw Ridge, per industry forecasts, is holding up with $7.5M-$8M, down about 50% from its opening a week ago. 10-day by Sunday might lie just under $30M.

EuropaCorp’s Shut In, which carries a production cost of $16M, also looks to be doing better but not good enough. It’s the last project stateside left over from late EuropaCorp chief Christophe Lambert’s regime. Late afternoon projections have it at $1.5M for Friday, potentially $4M for the weekend at 2,058. Who knew this movie was even coming out? The first digital ads on IMDB just popped up today.


1ST Update, 7:12AM: Paramount’s Amy Adams alien drama Arrival chalked up a notable $1.45M last night at 1,944 locations.

Comparing Arrival‘s Thursday to previous fall sci-fi movies, it inches out the $1.4M made by Gravity on its Thursday night 10PM shows; Arrival‘s began at 7PM.  However, Arrival‘s stubs last night are lower than The Martian‘s $2.5M Thursday. But many aren’t currently expecting Arrival to do Gravity ($55.8M) or Martin ($54.3M) openings, rather a three-day in the vicininty of $15M. There’s 52% K-12 schools and 30% colleges off today according to ComScore, so we’ll see how Arrival pans out and whether it was frontloaded. The pic expands to 2,317 today. Matinees should see a bump today, indeed Thursday pics saw percent increases in their ticket sales over Wednesday.

Paramount keeps comping Arrival to Bridge of Spies, which made $500K on its Thursday, which is odd, because that’s a movie for older men (57% males, 86% over 25). It’s not the older demo that’s in question of showing up for Arrival, rather women are stoked by this film’s mother-daughter emotional storyline, so you have to figure that more of them will show. Per tracking, the sci-fi film is predominantly notable in first choice among males (5%) and older females over 25 (5%).  Paramount acquired U.S. and China rights out of the Cannes Film Festival two years for this Denis Villeneuve movie at a record price of $20M. Pic’s production cost is an estimated $47M, financed by Lava Bear and FilmNation, the latter also handling foreign sales. Sony has several countries abroad.

Film Title: Almost Christmas

Universal’s family comedy Almost Christmas from writer/director David E. Talbert and producer Will Packer unwrapped $507K at 1,885 venues with showtimes starting at 7PM. The movie is expected to gross in the low to mid-teens.

EuropaCorp has the Naomi Watts thriller Shut In opening this weekend in 2,050 with an eye on $7M-$9M. Pic didn’t have any previews last night. Shut In, a 2012 Black List script, was written by Christina Hodson. It’s directed by BAFTA award winner Farren Blackburn, and stars Naomi Watts and Jacob Tremblay and tells the story of a widowed child psychologist who lives isolated in rural New England. She gets caught in a deadly winter storm, and must find a way to rescue a young boy.

Meanwhile, Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strangewhich is expected to reign atop the box office in its second weekend with $40M-$42M, made $6.2M (+22% from Wednesday) at 3,882 for a week’s cume of $110.1M.

20th Century Fox’s Trolls ranked second yesterday with $2.8M (+62% from Wednesday) at 4,060 and a week’s cume just shy of $59M. It is expected to hold greatly in its second sesh with an estimated $30M.  

Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge spiked 17% from Wednesday for an estimated Thursday of $1.57M at 2,886 and a seven-day total of $21.5M. Lionsgate/Summit is hoping that the WWII movie strikes a nerve with moviegoers today.

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