‘Doctor Strange 2’ hints at 2022’s biggest opening

The summer movie season is off to a good start with ‘Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness’. The superhero extravaganza grossed an estimated $185 million in ticket sales in its first weekend in U.S. and Canadian theaters, the Walt Disney Co said Sunday.

Not only did it more than double the opening of the first “Doctor Strange,” which opened to $85 million in 2016, but it was also the year’s biggest opener, ahead of the $134 million of ” The Batman”; the second-biggest in the pandemic, behind the $260.1 million of “Spider-Man: Far From Home”; and the sixth largest of all time in the world.

Internationally, it’s doing even better with around $265 million since it opened on Wednesday. In total, “Doctor Strange 2” has already grossed $450 million.

Spider-Man is at least partially to thank for the massive debut. Benedict Cumberbatch’s mighty wizard appeared prominently in “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which became the third biggest movie of all time since it opened in December. “Doctor Strange 2” picks up several months after the events of “No Way Home” and features Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff, who has become even more popular thanks to the recent Disney+ series “WandaVision.”

The film also has a gigantic footprint. It plays in 4,534 theaters in the United States and Canada alone, which Disney says is the seventh-widest opening ever. Premium format screens, including IMAX and 3D, accounted for 36% of the overall box office.

Sam Raimi stepped in to direct ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’, which reportedly cost around $200 million to make – though that number doesn’t represent the many other millions spent on marketing and promotion.

Over the weekend, the film trended on social media for everything from its many cameos to a heated debate over its PG-13 rating and whether or not the horror elements warranted anything more restrictive.

There was little left for other films showing in theaters. This is partly because many multiplexes have chosen to pack their venues with wall-to-wall “Doctor Strange” projections. Film Critic Matt Singer tweeted a photo of a Manhattan AMC offering 70 showings on Thursday alone.

Universal and DreamWorks Animation’s ‘The Bad Guys’ dropped to second place in its third weekend grossing an estimated $9.8 million, while Paramount’s ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’ clinched third place with $6.2 million.

“Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets” took fourth place with $3.9 million, bringing its domestic total to $86 million. And in fifth place was another multiverse-themed movie, “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” It saw a slight decline in its seventh weekend, but continues to pick up steam with an additional $3.3 million from 1,542 screens in its seventh weekend in theaters. The A24 film made $41.6 million in total.


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