Consider this the calm before the storm. Next weekend, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will open and dominate both the box office and every headline, drowning out each and every other movie currently screening in theaters. In the meantime, Moana took advantage of this quiet window to win one more strong weekend while Office Christmas Party got off to a pretty good start.
This weekend’s box office was essentially the hangover from last week’s big holiday: the numbers are a little smaller, very little in the top 10 actually moved around, and the only new release didn’t even come close to threatening the dominion of Moana and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
The box office success of Moana feels like destiny: an old school Disney formula plus 21st century polish plus great songs plus the mere presence of Dwayne Johnsonand near-universal critical notices is a surefire recipe for success...
It looks like the general public reacted to one of the most stressful weeks in living memory by flocking to the movies for a few hours of escape. Both Doctor Strange and Trolls, which debuted to solid numbers last week, held on strong. Arrival, the biggest newcomer of the bunch, also opened well, proving that it’s entirely possible to open in third place and still be a winner at the box office.
Like any new Marvel Studios movie, Doctor Strange was destined to take the number one spot at the box office — it was really just a question of how much it would make. Ultimately, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sorcerer Supreme surpassed expectations, topping the charts with an exceptional $84 million. But this was a strong weekend in general, with Trolls and Hacksaw Ridge performing well in second and third place.
Don’t let that headline mislead you too much. Tom Cruise is fine. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back also did fine in its opening weekend. But there’s something inherently amusing about one the most recognizable movie stars in the world playing second fiddle to Tyler Perry and his ever-popular creation, Madea. The seasonally appropriate Boo! A Madea Halloween edged out Cruise’s latest sequel at the box office this weekend, contributing to a top 10 where moderately budgeted movies reigned supreme.
The trend of more adult-oriented films commanding the box office continued this week with the success of The Accountant, which effortlessly snagged the number one spot. But like The Girl on the Train and The Magnificent Seven before it, Ben Affleck’s latest was strong without being enormous, meaning that word of mouth in the weeks ahead will prove vital to it being a proper hit.
Six months ago, this looked like a very different weekend at the box office. While the strong start for The Girl on the Train isn’t surprising, the weak opening for The Birth of a Nation reflects how the film, once seen as a surefire Oscar-contender, has been affected by a series of real world controversies. There’s an alternate timeline out there where it’s a sizable hit. Instead, the adaptation of a popular mystery novel starring Emily Blunt gets its picture at the top of this article.
Despite dominating the box office last week, The Magnificent Seven took a not-insignificant tumble this weekend, slipping to third place and allowing Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children and Deepwater Horizon to claim the top two spots. However, both newcomers opened below expectations, making this an odd capper to a September that was otherwise full of surprise hits.
September is traditionally the month of box office quiet after the summer movie season concludes, a chance for studios to unload movies that wouldn’t find their audience elsewhere in the year and an opportunity for everyone to recharge their batteries before the big movies return in October. But nobody told Sully, which is a bigger hit than most of the summer fare released in 2016. And now, nobody told The Magnificent Seven, which leapt into the number one spot with a very strong debut.
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