‘Doctor Strange 2’ Summons a Jaw-Dropping $200 Million-Plus Box Office Opening

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Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is now within reach of a benchmark that box office analysts were only whispering about before its release: a $200 million-plus opening.

After earning a jaw-dropping $90 million on opening day, including $36 million from Thursday previews, the 28th Marvel Cinematic Universe film is now projected by industry estimates to earn a $202 million weekend launch. Disney is keeping its projections dialed down a bit at $170-185 million, but a final weekend total on the upper end of projections would match the start of fellow MCU film “Black Panther” in 2018.

Regardless of how Saturday and Sunday play out, this sequel’s opening day total alone eclipses the opening weekends of 10 MCU films, including the $85 million opening of the first “Doctor Strange” in 2016. And of course, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is now 2022’s best opening weekend, blowing past the $134 million opening of “The Batman.”

If it meets industry estimates, “Doctor Strange 2” will become the ninth film in box office history and the sixth from Marvel Studios to beat the $200 million opening mark in the U.S. and Canada, doing so less than six months after the film that set it up, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” did so with a $260 million launch last December.

The one possible cause for concern is that critical and audience reception, while still positive, isn’t as overwhelmingly effusive as what “No Way Home” got. The film received a B+ on CinemaScore, joining “Thor” and “Eternals” as only the third MCU film to not receive an A or A- from the opening night audience poll, with Rotten Tomatoes scores standing at 76% critics and 88% audience.

While “Doctor Strange 2” has the mind-bending visuals of its predecessor and fulfills its promise of following up on the wildly popular “No Way Home” and Disney+ series “WandaVision,” critics say the film leans harder into the callbacks and references the MCU is known for to the detriment of its own narrative and Sam Raimi’s brand of bizarre imagery may not be for everyone.

But audience reception sagging slightly below MCU standards won’t faze Disney or movie theaters, who are both getting exactly the kind of kickoff to the summer blockbuster season that they were hoping for. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” should continue to drive strong turnout through the next two weeks, leading into a latter half of May that includes “Downton Abbey: A New Era,” “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” and the return of Tom Cruise to the big screen in “Top Gun: Maverick.”

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