The doctor is in. Marvel’s much-anticipated “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” grossed a sum north of $90 million on Friday, putting the superhero sequel on the path to becoming the biggest domestic opening of 2022 so far.
The MCU entry is likely to outpace early box office predictions, which pegged the second “Strange” with a final total of $160 million to $180 million for its first weekend. Current projections indicate that the film could land a tally higher than $200 million once all the numbers are finalized after Sunday.
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With nearly $100 million already in the tank from 4,534 locations, Disney’s “Multiverse of Madness” should outpace the $134 million debut of Warner Bros.’ comic book competitor “The Batman” to become the biggest domestic box office opening of the calendar year.
When all the numbers are tallied, it looks like “Multiverse of Madness” will land a domestic opening more than twice as high as the original 2016 “Doctor Strange,” which bowed to $85 million. The predecessor topped out at $232.6 million domestic, which the sequel looks to blast past in under a week. That giant uptick demonstrates the goodwill Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sorcerer Supreme earned from audiences by showing up in two “Avengers” movies and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in the years in between.
As is the case with any Marvel Studios film, “Doctor Strange 2” cost a pretty penny, carrying a $200 million production price tag. And, as is the case with almost any Marvel Studios film, it shouldn’t be long before the movie recoups those costs in ticket sales. “Strange” already raked in $27 million internationally on its opening day oversea. The film had sold $65 million worth of tickets in domestic pre-sales alone.
Directed by Sam Raimi, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” follows Doctor Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) as he casts a dangerous spell that lands him in the multiverse, where he must compete with alternate versions of himself. The film also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch, Benedict Wong as Wong and Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez.
Variety chief film critic Owen Gleiberman called the film “both entertaining and exhausting,” writing: “It’s an unhinged ride, a CGI horror jam, a Marvel brainteaser and, at moments, a bit of an ordeal.” Critics haven’t been universally warm — the movie has landed a 75% critical aggregate approval score on Rotten Tomatoes, which is lower than usual for Marvel films — but it’s unlikely that will stall fans from rushing to theaters. General moviegoers have been largely receptive to “Strange 2,” bestowing a “B+” CinemaScore rating to the film; that’s on the lower end of a typical MCU entry, so it’ll be seen whether word-of-mouth impacts the film’s legs moving forward.
With Marvel Studios back in town, the rest of the box office was forced to fend for scraps. Universal’s “The Bad Guys” looks to take second with a projected gross of $10.3 million for its third weekend. The DreamWorks Animation movie should expand its domestic total to $58 million through Sunday.
Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” is aiming for a third place finish in its fifth weekend of release. The SEGA sequel has performed tremendously and should push past a $170 million domestic gross this weekend.
Fourth and fifth place will be determined by a tight race between Warner Bros.’ “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” and A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
“The Secrets of Dumbledore” is projected to drop 52% in its fourth weekend of release, expanding its domestic gross to $86 million through Sunday. The latest entry in the “Harry Potter” prequel series has largely underperformed and a domestic finish above $100 million seems unlikely.
With a new multiverse hitting theaters, the sci-fi mash-up “Everything Everywhere All at Once” suffered a hit at the box office. The indie release had been putting up impressive holds — even demonstrating a 2% week-to-week climb last weekend — but the film is suffering its biggest plummet yet with a projected 32% drop. The Michelle Yeoh action vehicle should push past a $40 million domestic gross this weekend.
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