It was an out of this world weekend for this Box Office leading to some record breaking for a few and overall an impressive performance from our top 12.

Leading this week’s Box Office charts was Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange which repeated at spot #1 this weekend with $43 million. Strange only dropped 49.5% in its second weekend performance and has officially brought its domestic cume over $153 million in just 10 days. This makes it Marvel’s second fastest single-character feature to reach the $150 domestic milestone.

Additionally, Doctor Strange’s international performance is continuing to mind bindingly trip up the overseas markets as it pulled in $60.2 bringing its total international cume to $339.6 million. This effectively passes the lifetime international cumes of The Incredible Hulk (with $129m), Captain America: The First Avenger (with $194m), Iron Man (with $266m), Thor (with $268m), Iron Man 2 ($310m), and Ant-Man ($339m).

It comes as no surprise this week that Doctor Strange took this weekend’s box office, what with a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, its A rating on Cinemasocre, extremely positive word of mouth, and being arguable the best rebound for superhero/comic book fans after the disaster of a film that Suicide Squad was. But more over this is a huge moment for Disney as Doctor Strange’s performance this weekend led to making 2016 the best year at the domestic box office for the studio ever. Disney has brought in $2.3 billion this year just from the domestic market, surpassing its $2.278 billion record set just last year. And Disney isn’t done yet – with massive sure-fire audience favorites like Moana and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story releasing still this year, Disney is going to continue to shatter some serious glass ceilings.

Coming in second this weekend was Dreamworks Animations Trolls which brought in an additional $35 million domestically in its sophomore weekend. Trolls only say a 24.9% decline in revenue between its first and second weekend performances which is huge as that makes it the best first-to-second weekend performance for an animated film this year. Technically Trolls is the runner up to that record if you consider The Wild Life’s first-to-second weekend performance which only say a 17.1% decline, but really, is anyone considering The Wild Life as an actual film? 

And touching down in third we find our first newcomer of the weekend, Paramount Pictures Arrival which brought in $24 million from 2,317 theaters. Arrival is the latest work from acclaimed director and storytelling Denis Villeneuve best known for his most recent works such as 2015’s Sicario and 2013’s Prisoners. I’ll tell you right now, Arrival is easily tied for my favorite film of the year. Not only does the film offer amazing performances from Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and yes even Forest Whitaker, the film is laced with exquisite and strikingly minimalistic cinematography, a score and soundscape that for me is the equal to Interstellar while being an entirely 180 degree approach, typography that feels incredibly perfect for the film, and at the heart of it all this film has layers upon layers of meaning just waiting for its audience to discover.

Yes, to the outsider observer you could assume this is just a sci-fi thriller with Aliens where the humans race against the clock to figure out who these visitors are and what they are looking for, but like Adams’ character says early on in the film, “it’s a simple premise to generalize and hook the audience”, when really this film is as much about aliens as Gravity is about being lost in space.

Arrival is an incredibly intelligent sci-film about the story of linguist Dr. Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams) who is called upon by the US government the moment these curious looking heptapods touch down in 12 seemingly random places across earth. In an attempt to figure out what these visitors want and why there are 12 of them, Banks is charged with working alongside physicist Ian Donnelly (played by Jeremy Renner). Things escalate quickly across the globe which only puts stress on an already stressed situation both at home and abroad. But Banks’ refusal to give up and push deeper into connecting with her foreign travels proves that while the fastest drawn weapon can be language, it can also be what bounds us on incredibly deep levels – even when the worst happens.

Adams’ performance as she puts her skill set to the ultimate test to try and communicate with another life form from an entirely different planet is one of her best in recent history. You feel lost with her in this void of translation as the stakes from the outsider rise ever higher. You see the tightening grip of isolationism around her and the possible catastrophic effects it could render for everyone. And you are left feeling the highs and lows of our own humanity expressed perfectly through her understanding that it all begins and ends with our ability to connect with one another.

Yes, at times it feels as if you’re sitting through an English lesson, but the juxtapositioning of these scenes and the expressiveness of the cast never make you come away from the edge of your seat. I would put forth even that maybe we feel so engaged by such an English lesson is because we’ve forgotten the very core of why we have language – not to communicate, but rather to connect.

I could go on and on as to what makes this movie so great and why you should go see it, but to avoid going any deeper and spoilers, trust me when I say this film is an out of this world adventure that is close to home that you’ll be left looking inward far deeper than you will be looking up into the skies for answers.

And finishing in fourth this weekend was Almost Christmas which seemingly got a nice little present of $15 million by going super early to theatres this year. For a film made on a $17 million budget that’s pretty great and Universal definitely got lucky with this one as the performance of the film will most likely far descent to forgettable as more Christmas films continue to release over the coming holiday weekends.

And the final newcomer this weekend, Shut In, closed itself off from the October thriller season so much so that it came in at spot #7 with a meager $3.6 million from over 2,000 theatres. Given that Europa only has this film and Nine Lives to its name for 2016, Lionsgate may not end up having the worst year amongst all the other studios.

But looking ahead to this coming weekend we have three big films coming to theatres.

First up with have the latest installment in the Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world universe, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Set in 1920’s New York this new film promises to bring magic to audiences in more forms than just one. From spectacular effects and visuals, to amazing performances from Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterson, and Ezra Miller just to name a few, and with James Howard composing, this film is going to be a wonderful time for any and all audiences. It no doubt is the name to beat this weekend and what I’ll be interested in is seeing just how fantastic of an opening it’ll have both here at home and internationally.

Also releasing this coming weekend is Open Road films’ Bleed for This staring Miles Teller and Aaron Eckhart. Inspired by a true story Bleed for This is the story of Vinny Pazienza, nicknamed “The Pazmanian Devil”, who after winning two world title fights and rising to stardom quite quickly, is involved in a near-fatal car accident that leaves him with a broken neck. Vinny is told he’ll never see the inside of a ring again but despite how easy giving up on his dreams would be and accepting his fate, Vinny – along with the help of Rooney played by Aaron Eckhart - pushes himself to return to the ring for what could be the last fight of this life. For me this while I know this film will have a lot competing against it, it looks like an Oscar contender to keep on your radar and arguably one of Miles Tellers better performances.

And our third newcomer for this weekend will be STX Entertainments’ The Edge of Seventeen which is a coming of age high school story of Nadina who at the peak of her social awkwardness finds herself feeling more alone than ever after finding out her best friend is sleeping with her all-star older brother. Yes, this film may sound like a rehash albeit uninspired story, but the performances in this film and the bold and honest manner they go about telling this story does look like it’ll be a refreshing take on an otherwise overdone genre topic.

That’s it for this week! From mind binding, out of this world films, to magical imaginative hidden worlds, and all the in between this is a weekend that you could honestly just spend all day Saturday and Sunday watching movies at your local theatre – and believe us, no one is going to judge you for that! 

-Matthew Miller

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