‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Dazzles With $36 Million at Thursday Box Office

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“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” Marvel’s latest superhero epic and the first since the box office juggernaut “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” made $36 million in its Thursday previews that began at 3 p.m. The film opens today on 4,534 locations, which is the seventh widest opening footprint in industry history.

The “Doctor Strange” sequel should kick off the summer blockbuster season in style and give audiences another reminder of what a pandemic box office could look like if back to full strength. Independent trackers suggest that “Doctor Strange 2” could bring in $160 million in its opening weekend, with some going even higher to a $200 million start, if below what “No Way Home” managed. Though Disney has tempered expectations, some still say it could pass “The Batman” and its $134 million opening from this spring.

For comparison, “The Batman” made $21.6 million in its Thursday preview screenings, and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” noted similarly high pre-sales leading up to its release. “No Way Home” posted a gargantuan $50 million in preview screenings, one of the highest preview showings ever. And for the record, the original “Doctor Strange” from 2016 made $9.4 million in its Thursday previews and opened to a more modest $85 million. The sequel could easily double, if not triple that box office haul.

Something closer in the ballpark could be “Captain Marvel,” which in 2019 made $20.7 million in its Thursday start and opened to $153.4 million, or 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” which did $25 million in previews and opened to $179.1 million. In fact, “Doctor Strange 2” ranks directly behind the $39 million Thursday performance of “Avengers: Infinity War,” which made $257.6 million.

So far internationally, after opening in an additional 24 markets on Thursday, the film has made $85.7 million to date, which is just 12% below the international performance of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” on a like-for-like basis. “Multiverse of Madness” also did quite well on Imax screens and was Imax’s fifth highest grossing preview for a Thursday night, including $4.2 million from 410 domestic screens and an additional $5 million over two days internationally from 300 screens.

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Steven Strange. The film picks up from the events of “No Way Home” in which he opened the multiverse at the request of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker and now must deal with the consequences of that decision when he meets a young woman named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) who has the ability to travel between universes.

The film is directed by Sam Raimi and in reviews has been praised for preserving some of Raimi’s penchant for horror and oddity. Returning from the original cast are Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg and Rachel McAdams.

“Doctor Strange 2” also follows-up from the events of Marvel’s first hit TV series “WandaVision” and features Elizabeth Olson reprising her role as the Scarlet Witch Wanda Maximoff.

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