ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at Creators.co
Staff Writer, Superheroes, Star Wars and such. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

Now, if the recent electoral college victory of Donald "no, seriously, call me Mr. President" Trump has you reaching for that mound of Canadian residency applications you stockpiled before the election, then there's unlikely to be anything anyone can say, write or do to make you feel a whole lot better. After all, the United States is about to be left in the tiny, grasping hands of a man who believes that sexual assault isn't sexual assault when he does it, which isn't the sort of thing that comes with a silver lining so much as a bleeding sliver of light within the darkness.

If you are still searching for some help with that existential despair that's going around, though, then the US #boxoffice might just have some good news for you. Y'see, as it turns out...

The US Election Had A Strange Impact On This Weekend's Box Office

[Arrival/Paramount]
[Arrival/Paramount]

More specifically, it seems that the US election, for all of its divisiveness, distressing content and potentially horrifying repercussions, had a hugely beneficial impact on the US box office. And we're not talking one of those minor 3 percent differences that could easily be a statistical anomaly, either: Takings were up somewhere in the region of 45–50 percent from the equivalent weekend last year.

With the chart-topping #DoctorStrange leading the way — it experienced an astonishingly small second weekend drop-off of 49percent, thus earning it a solid $44 million — the entire box office substantially outperformed expectations, with the second placed #Trolls dropping only an eye-bogglingly tiny 25 percent from last weekend, with a $35.1 million haul. Even the new releases substantially over-performed, with the Amy Adams-starring #Arrival making $24 million against an expected $16 million, and the holiday-themed #AlmostChristmas raking in a solid $15.7 million in fourth place.

The big question that all raises, though?

Just What The Heck Does All Of That Have To Do With The US Election?

[Doctor Strange/Marvel Studios]
[Doctor Strange/Marvel Studios]

Well, here's the thing: In the wake of as emotionally distressing an experience as this past week's election was for many people, it seems that some seek out communal experiences like movie-going as a form of catharsis. As box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian recently told THR:

"Two hours of movie-going is like a massive, immersive group therapy session. No matter what side of the aisle you find yourself, going to the movies is a pastime that everyone can agree crosses party lines and conflicting political ideologies... There is no question that what the world needs now is the great escape that only the movie theater experience can provide"

And that "group therapy session," it seems, translated into a huge increase in box office takings from 2015, with Friday showing an 80 percent increase in over the same day last year. Now, it's of course worth noting that much of that jump can be attributed to it being Veterans Day, which tends to be far busier for studios when it falls on a Friday. However, with the rest of the weekend also seemingly over-performing, it seems extremely likely that the US election had at least some impact.

What Does That Actually Mean, Though?

[Arrival/Paramount]
[Arrival/Paramount]

Well, on the face of it, not all that much, beyond the fact that, as a whole, we apparently respond to political trauma by going to a darkened room to roughly approximate human contact without having to actually talk to people. What's more, it also suggests that the response of distraught political opponents to Trump's victory was to thrust as much money as possible into the pockets of large theater and studio-owning corporations, which is probably exactly the sort of economic stimulus the President-elect will soon claim is the result of his having "the best words."

It also, however, seems to suggest that a large chunk of the movie-going public isn't just looking for catharsis at the box office, but also for reassurance that everything will be OK. With Doctor Strange and Trolls ultimately being intensely positive, optimistic films, Arrival being a story about human progress trumping conservative and militaristic cynicism, and Almost Christmas a tale of family coming together despite their differences, it's not too much of a reach to suggest that the film's themselves played a part in their success. After all, in a world in which #DonaldTrump is president, a pretty huge proportion of the country was always likely to be in need of both distraction and a reaffirmation of humanity being something worth having faith in.

Or, alternatively, the box office numbers are just inflated because people actually want to see the films that are currently in theaters, and politics doesn't actually have all that much to do about it. Last year's equivalent figures, after all, may well have been low in part because people weren't all that excited about the returning #Spectre or #ThePeanutsMovie, or the newly arrived #MeetTheCoopers and #The33.

In a week in which the US elected an orange-faced tax-avoider (currently under investigation for fraud) to the highest office in the land, though, it's surely tempting to be a little more optimistic than that, though.

Still want more on the records Trump is helping to break? Never fear, we've got you covered right here.

In the meantime, what do you think? Is this past weekend's box office bump a direct result of the US election? Let us know below!

[THR]