As Election Day approaches on Tuesday, audiences could use some escapism — and they’ll get it with the box office offerings this weekend. The newest Marvel superhero makes his debut with Disney’s Doctor Strange, Fox and DreamWorks unveil the animated Trolls, and Lionsgate releases the gritty war drama Hacksaw Ridge. With the top film at the box office for the past two weekends, Lionsgate’s horror comedy Boo! A Madea Halloween, sure to drop off significantly this weekend now that its titular holiday has passed, all three of these films should open with good to amazing debuts.
Doctor Strange (Disney)
- The Marvel superhero universe is on a box office roll the past few years. Their most recent four titles include May’s Captain America: Civil War with $408.0 million (currently the second-highest grossing film of the year), Ant-Man with $180.2 million, Avengers: Age of Ultron with $459.0 million, and Guardians of the Galaxy with $333.1 million. With those kinds of numbers, it’s hard to imagine Doctor Strange making less than the low-$200 million range at an absolute minimum.
- Let’s focus on two of those films for a moment, the fellow origin stories as opposed to sequels. Ant-Man opened with $57.2 million last July for $180.2 million total, while Guardians of the Galaxy opened with $94.3 million in August 2014 for $333.1 million total. While Doctor Strange will have a tough task matching Guardians as a pop culture phenomenon, it could close if not pulling even or slightly ahead, while it seems almost certain to beat Ant-Man.
- The cast list includes Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, Rachel McAdams as the love interest, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as a fellow superhero with powers who serves as something of a sidekick. All three have been nominated for Oscars in the past three years, this is Cumberbatch’s first lead role since his Best Actor nod for the financially-successful The Imitation Game, and McAdams’ first since her Best Supporting Actress nod for Spotlight.
- Honestly, there are very few cons here. Perhaps the lack of familiarity with the title character outside of the existing comic book fandom could hurt it, although as mentioned before that didn’t seem to hurt little-known characters like Deadpool or Ant-Man.
- In terms of opening weekend, Doctor Strange seems likely to blow the competition away, as there’s no real competing big-budget special effects-laden blockbusters out right now. But over the coming weeks, it will face some challenges from Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Arrival.
Trolls (Fox / DreamWorks)
- The all-star voice cast includes Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick. Timberlake took his original song from the soundtrack “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and don’t be surprised if some of the voice actors appear on fellow voice James Corden’s always-viral “Carpool Karaoke” segment. (But do hit songs from movies create high box office? A recent analysis from Boxoffice Pro found that the answer to that question is debatable.)
- Opening more than a month after previous animated release Storks and three weeks before the next Disney animated musical Moana, Trolls might be hitting a sweet spot with a lack of options for family audiences. Just look at the top six films at the box office last weekend, which were all aimed at adult audiences: Boo! A Madea Halloween, Inferno, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, The Accountant, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and The Girl on the Train.
- Buzz has been smaller online pre-release than for some of the other biggest animated films of the year such Finding Dory, Zootopia, and The Secret Life of Pets.
- Parents know the iconic Troll dolls which achieved their peak of popularity in the 1970s… but will their children?
Hacksaw Ridge (Lionsgate)
- The film received an incredible 10-minute standing ovation when first screened at the Venice Film Festival. If that positive reception extends to the general public, that could be great news for word of mouth.
- Andrew Garfield portrays Desmond Doss, the real-life conscientious objector who refused to fire a gun while serving in World War II but still saved the lives of dozens of soldiers as a medic. The tale is inspiring and Andrew Garfield has had box office success with all three of his wide releases this decade: The Amazing Spider-Man with $262.0 million, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with $202.8 million, and The Social Network with $96.9 million which was impressive for a mid-budget drama.
- The director is Mel Gibson, who Hollywood has usually refused to touch with a 17-and-a-half-foot pole during the past decade, ever since a series of drunken anti-Semitic and sexist remarks he made were leaked. He hasn’t directed a film since Apocalypto in 2006 which earned a decent $50.8 million and he hasn’t had a true hit as an actor since Signs earned $227.9 million in 2002. Although he’s only behind the camera instead of in front of it this time, his very association could turn some viewers off.
- Hacksaw‘s long-term grosses could be impacted by the release of fellow World War II drama Allied later in November. That film stars Brad Pitt and could steal much of Hacksaw‘s thunder.
Boxoffice Pro predicts that the top 10 films this weekend will earn a combined $174.70 million. That would be 135.4 percent higher (or more than double) the $74.20 million earned by the top 10 films last weekend. It would also be 17.4 percent higher than the $148.79 million earned by the top 10 films on this weekend last year, when Spectre led with $70.40 million.
|Title||Distributor||Weekend||Cumulative total through Sunday, November 7|
|Boo! A Madea Halloween||Lionsgate||$9,470,000||$67,030,000|
|Inferno||Sony / Columbia||$6,690,000||$27,000,000|
|The Accountant||Warner Bros.||$5,090,000||$69,990,000|
|Jack Reacher: Never Go Back||Paramount||$4,820,000||$48,650,000|
|Ouija: Origin of Evil||Universal||$3,560,000||$31,040,000|
|The Girl on the Train (2016)||Universal||$2,630,000||$70,550,000|
|Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children||Fox||$2,440,000||$83,760,000|