Doctor Strange 2 Debuts in Heroic for $185M

Doctor Strange and its dubiously effective book of spells grossed a $185 million blockbuster in North American theaters over the weekend, confirming the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s box office dominance after a more shaky, pandemic-worn year for the franchise.

The time-bending “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” represents a return to form for Disney’s MCU following the release of Black Widow ($80M debut, plus $60M on Disney Plus), Shang-Chi in the COVID era. and legend. Ten Rings (debut $75 million) and The Eternals (debut $71 million). Due to the pandemic and other extenuating circumstances, these releases failed to live up to their franchise predecessors in terms of ticket sales.

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This box office run marks the 11th biggest opening weekend in history. Given the anomalous nature of hitting such box office heights, Doctor Strange 2 easily became the biggest opening weekend of 2022, as well as the second biggest debut in the time of COVID-19. Prior to this weekend, The Batman had been the biggest opening weekend of the year, grossing $134 million. Spider-Man: No Way Home still ranks as the biggest opening weekend at the start of the pandemic (and the second biggest ever) with $260 million.

Overseas, the film earned $265 million from 49 territories, bringing the worldwide total to $450 million. Since Doctor Strange 2 is unlikely to be screened in China, Russia or Ukraine, the film will depend on repeat screenings from audiences around the world to push ticket sales past the coveted $1 billion mark. Only Spider-Man: No Way Home has managed to cross that threshold since the spread of COVID.

At home, the Doctor Strange sequel outperformed its predecessor’s opening weekend performance in a single day. Multiverse of Madness made $90 million on Friday alone, while the 2016 adventure film Doctor Strange made $85 million between Friday and Sunday. Marvel and other major franchises tend to be number one in terms of ticket sales because fans want to be among the first to see the movie so spoilers don’t show up online and spoil the fun. However, the sequel will quickly overtake the final box office gross of the original Doctor Strange, which ended its theatrical run with $232 million domestically and $677 million worldwide.

Doctor Strange 2 is the sequel to Sony’s box office giant Spider-Man: No Home, which became a must-see movie event and grossed $1.89 billion worldwide. With the teasing adventures of Peter Parker as a precursor, and Disney’s marketing machine going out of its way to tease big surprise cameos, Doctor Strange landed in thin air – even for a Marvel movie. As the franchise now spans the big and small screens, Disney Plus is bringing shows like WandaVision and What If? also contributed to the excitement.

Imax, 3D, and other premium screens also boosted the box office for Strange, which cost $200 million to produce, not including huge marketing fees. According to Disney, 36% of total box office receipts come from premium formats. With $33 million from Imax alone, Doctor Strange ranks among the top 10 company weekends in the world.

“This is another sensational Marvel discovery by Marvel’s own dominant standards,” says David A. Gross, head of consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. Doctor Strange is expanding its audience with a stronger sequel.”

Sam Raimi, the inspiration behind the original Spider-Man trilogy, directed Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The film tells how the eponymous neurosurgeon-turned-Avenger, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, casts a dangerous spell that sends him into the multiverse to face a mysterious new adversary and alternate versions of himself. Along with Cumberbatch, the cast includes Chiwetel Ejiofor as Carl Mordo, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch, Benedict Wong as Wong, and Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, a teenager who can travel between dimensions.

Doctor Strange 2 kicks off the summer blockbuster season with a bang. In the coming months, Top Gun: Maverick (May 27), Jurassic World Dominion (June 10), and Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8) will keep theaters crowded with pedestrians.

With the “Multiverse of Madness” looming in theaters (and occupies almost every screen on major chains), a few holdovers topped the box office charts.

After two weeks at number one, Universal’s animated comedy The Bad Boys dropped to number two with $9.7 million from 3,839 theaters. With these earnings, the film’s domestic gross reached $57 million.

Paramount’s family film Sonic the Hedgehog 2 finished in third place with $6.2 million from 3,358 theaters in North America. After five weeks on the big screen, the Sonic sequel grossed $169.9 million at the box office. It’s one of the rare pandemic-era sequels to earn more in theaters than its predecessor. Sonic’s first adventure on the silver screen grossed $148 million in North America before COVID-19 forced the multiplexes to close in March 2020.

Fantastic Beasts: A Dumbledore Secret dropped to 4th with $3.8 million on 3,051 screens. The latest chapter in the Harry Potter prequel series is considered the highest-grossing of the entire Wizarding World franchise. To date, Dumbledore’s Secrets has grossed $86 million and may have a hard time breaking the $100 million mark domestically – a benchmark that previous Harry Potter-adjacent films have broken in a matter of days.

“Everything, Everywhere, All At Once” A24 overtook Focus Features’ “The Northerner” for fifth place, as the former grossed $3.3 million from 1,542 theaters and the latter grossed $2.7 million from 2,413 theaters. This weekend’s turnout continues the strong box office performance for Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, the genre film starring Michelle Yeoh, despite playing in far fewer theaters than The Northerner. Since opening in theaters seven weeks ago, “Everything Everywhere” has grossed an impressive $41 million in North America. The Northerner has earned $28 million to date.

At the dedicated box office, IFC Films brought Audrey Divan’s abortion drama Happening to theaters in New York and Los Angeles, grossing $34,000 from four theaters. This amounts to $8,500 per seat. Set in 1963 France, Happening hits the big screen at a politically charged moment when the Supreme Court looks set to rule in Roe v. Wade. IFC plans to show the film in more than 100 cities across the country next week.

“IFC Films is committed to bringing Happening to screens across America at this pivotal moment in time,” said Arianna Bocco, President of IFC Films. “We hope audiences find this film and it sparks important conversations about our future. We are proud to continue our long tradition of sharing important stories about women with audiences across the country.”

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