Box Office: ‘Doctor Strange 2’ debuts to heroic $185m

(REUTERS): Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness grossed $185 million in its debut to land one of the biggest openings of all time domestically, reaffirming the box office dominance of Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe after a shakier, pandemic-battered year for the franchise.

The sequel represents a return to form for Disney’s MCU after Covid-era releases Black Widow ($80 million debut, plus $60 million on Disney Plus), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ($75 million debut), and Eternals ($71 million debut).

Due to the pandemic and other extenuating circumstances, those installments failed to live up to their franchise predecessors in terms of ticket sales. Those box office returns mark the 11th biggest opening weekend in history.

Given the anomaly of reaching those box office heights, Doctor Strange 2 easily delivered the biggest opening weekend of 2022, as well as the second-biggest debut in Covid-19 times. Prior to this weekend, The Batman stood as the year’s biggest opening weekend with $134 million. Spider-Man: No Way Home still ranks as the pandemic’s biggest opening weekend (and the second-biggest ever) with $260 million.

Overseas, the film earned $265 million from 49 territories, taking the global total to $450 million. Since Doctor Strange 2 is not likely to play in China, Russia or Ukraine, the film will rely on repeat viewings from audiences around the globe to push ticket sales past the coveted $1 billion mark.

At the domestic box office, Doctor Strange follow-up outgrossed its predecessor’s entire opening weekend tally in a single day. Doctor Strange 2 raked in $90 million on Friday alone, while the 2016 adventure Doctor Strange brought in $85 million between Friday and Sunday.

“This is another sensational Marvel opening, by Marvel’s own dominant standard,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “Doctor Strange is growing its audience with a stronger follow-up release.”

Sam Raimi, the mastermind behind the original Spider-Man trilogy, directed Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The film picks up as the eponymous neurosurgeon-turned-Avenger, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, casts a dangerous spell that forces him to travel into the multiverse to face a mysterious new adversary and alternate versions of himself.

Along with Cumberbatch, the cast includes Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch, Benedict Wong as Wong and Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, a teen 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) should keep theaters bustling with foot traffic. With The Multiverse of Madness looming large in theaters (and taking up nearly every single screen in major circuits), several holdover titles rounded out box office charts.

After two weeks at the No. 1 spot, Universal’s animated heist comedy The Bad Guys dropped to second place with $9.7 million from 3,839 venues. Those returns bring the movie’s domestic tally to $57 million.

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