Weekend Projections: ‘Doctor Strange’ Casts Excellent $81M Start; ‘Trolls’ Eyes Strong $44M; ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ Pacing for Solid $14.1M

Saturday Update: Marvel’s Doctor Strange delivered a whopping $32.559 million on opening day Friday, including Thursday evening’s $9.4 million start. That comes in 2 percent ahead of Thor: The Dark World‘s $31.9 million opening day on the same Friday three years ago, while topping last year’s James Bond sequel Spectre ($27.4 million) by nearly 19 percent. Reviews and initial word of mouth are excellent with 91 percent and 90 percent respective scores on Rotten Tomatoes and Flixster, pointing to not just a great weekend ahead but considerable staying power in the coming weeks. As Marvel’s 14th entry in their cinematic universe, they’ve delivered yet another huge success in the form of a lesser-known character turned into a big draw (with some thanks for that going to rising star Benedict Cumberbatch). We’re currently projecting an $81 million opening weekend based on these early results.

Meanwhile, Fox/DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls opened to an excellent $12.3 million yesterday, coming in ahead of our expectations. That’s about 2 percent ahead of The Peanuts Movie on the same weekend last year. Trolls is counter-programming the weekend’s big opener by appealing mostly to young female audiences, a strategy that should pay off well leading up to Disney’s Moana later this month. Boxoffice is projecting a fantastic $44 million opening weekend.

Mel Gibson’s return to the directorial chair is off to a very positive start as well: Hacksaw Ridge drew $5.22 million on Friday, a figure that bodes well considering the strong reviews and word of mouth behind it already. Military and faith-based families should continue driving it throughout the holiday season. For this weekend, we’re projecting $14.1 million.

Our key weekend projections can be found in the chart below. Check back on Sunday for official weekend estimates from the studios and further analysis.

WIDE (1000+)

# TITLE WEEKEND LOCATIONS AVG. TOTAL WKS. DIST.
1 Doctor Strange $81,000,000 3,882 $20,866 $81,000,000 1 Disney
2 Trolls $44,000,000 4,060 $10,837 $44,000,000 1 Fox / DreamWorks Animation
3 Hacksaw Ridge $14,100,000 2,886 $4,886 $14,100,000 1 Lionsgate
4 Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween $8,000,000 -54% 2,234 -65 $3,581 $65,190,055 3 Lionsgate
5 Inferno $6,100,000 -59% 3,576 0 $1,706 $25,907,930 2 Sony / Columbia
6 The Accountant $5,900,000 -30% 2,688 -714 $2,195 $70,808,194 4 Warner Bros.
7 Jack Reacher: Never Go Back $5,400,000 -44% 3,079 -701 $1,754 $49,060,000 3 Paramount
8 Ouija: Origin of Evil $3,800,000 -47% 2,380 -788 $1,597 $31,189,250 3 Universal
9 The Girl on the Train (2016) $2,680,000 -39% 1,572 -1186 $1,705 $70,637,365 5 Universal
10 Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children $1,950,000 -52% 1,710 -1087 $1,140 $83,184,389 6 Fox
11 Keeping Up with the Joneses $1,100,000 -68% 1,064 -1958 $1,034 $13,315,236 3 Fox
12 Storks $890,000 -69% 1,155 -746 $771 $69,857,504 7 Warner Bros.

LIMITED (100 — 999)

# TITLE WEEKEND LOCATIONS AVG. TOTAL WKS. DIST.
1 Ae Dil Hai Mushkil $815,000 -63% 296 -6 $2,753 $3,651,565 2 FIP
2 Deepwater Horizon $770,000 -63% 783 -1271 $983 $59,939,138 6 Lionsgate / Summit
3 Kevin Hart: What Now? $570,000 -67% 453 -1203 $1,258 $23,120,480 4 Universal
4 Sully $525,000 -44% 454 -401 $1,156 $123,285,219 9 Warner Bros.
5 The Magnificent Seven (2016) $500,000 -63% 490 -840 $1,020 $92,286,029 7 Sony / Columbia
6 Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life $400,000 -68% 485 -810 $825 $19,114,785 5 CBS Films / Lionsgate
7 The Birth of a Nation (2016) $250,000 -55% 197 -207 $1,269 $15,562,191 5 Fox Searchlight

PLATFORM (1 — 99)

# TITLE WEEKEND LOCATIONS AVG. TOTAL WKS. DIST.
1 Moonlight (2016) $1,200,000 41% 83 47 $14,458 $2,954,698 3 A24

===

Friday Report: Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange kicked off with an excellent $9.4 million start on Thursday night as it begins its domestic release riding a wave of strong reviews and incredible marketing. By comparison, that tally comes in 15 percent higher than X-Men: Apocalypse ($8.2 million), 79 percent over last year’s November opener, Spectre ($5.25 million), 47 percent over Ant-Man ($6.4 million), and 32 percent higher than Thor: The Dark World ($7.1 million) three Novembers ago. It also comes in just 16 percent behind Guardians of the Galaxy ($11.2 million), which is telling since Strange doesn’t have the same benefit of schools being out for summer.

If the Doctor were to follow the trajectory of Marvel’s most recent origin story (Ant-Man), it would land around $84 million for opening weekend. That being said, Ant-Man also had the benefit of summer audiences on Thursday night. Thor: The Dark World is likely the next best comparison, but as a sequel that opened three years ago, it isn’t an apples-to-oranges comparison either.

Bottom line: the picture won’t clear up much until Saturday morning, but signs still point to a likely opening three-day frame between $80-95 million.

Meanwhile, Trolls kicked off to a solid start of its own with $900,000 last night. That’s 12.5 percent ahead of Angry Birds‘ $800,000 back in May, while 38.5 percent ahead of Home ($650,000). It looks set to counter-program in a very successful way this weekend.

Hacksaw Ridge took in a solid $750,000 last night as well, doubling the $370,000 earned by Free State of Jones last summer. It too is aiming for an encouraging debut on the heels of very strong reviews.

We’ll have official Friday estimates and key weekend projections on Saturday morning.

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