by Lindsay Bahri
Summer movie season is off to a blockbuster start thanks to “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.” The superhero extravaganza garnered an estimated $185 million in ticket sales in its first weekend in US and Canadian theaters, the Walt Disney Company said on Sunday.
Not only did it more than double the opening of the first “Doctor Strange,” which opened to $85 million in 2016, it’s also the biggest opener of the year, ahead of “The Batman”‘s $134 million; “Spider-Man: Far From Holmes” is the second largest in the pandemic, behind $260.1 million; and the sixth largest ever globally.
Internationally, it’s doing even better, with an estimated $265 million since opening Wednesday. Overall, ‘Doctor Strange 2’ has already earned $450 million.
Spider-Man is at least partly to thank for the sweeping debut. Benedict Cumberbatch’s mighty wizard appeared prominently in “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which has become the third-highest film of all time since opening in December. “Doctor Strange 2” begins several months after the events of “No Way Home” and brings in Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff, who recently became even more popular thanks to the Disney+ series “WandaVision”.
The film also has a huge footprint. It’s running in 4,534 theaters in the US and Canada alone, the seventh-largest opening ever, according to Disney. Premium format screens, including IMAX and 3D, account for 36% of the total box office.
“The blockbuster season of summer kicks off with a strong start with Doctor Strange – an excellent sign for an unprecedented slate,” IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond said in a statement.
Hollywood’s summer movie season typically begins in early May and runs through the end of August and – unlike the previous two years – regularly generates more than $4 billion in ticket sales (or about 40 percent of the year’s total earnings). %) account.
Sam Raimi stepped down to direct “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which cost nearly $200 million to make—though that number doesn’t account for the many millions spent on marketing and promotion.
Over the weekend, the film has trended on social media for everything from its multiple cameos to a spirited debate over its PG-13 rating and whether or not the horror elements warrant something more restrictive.
“It’s a total win for an industry for which the previous two summers were almost nonexistent in terms of box office,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore. “Marvel has been starting summer for over a decade. It’s a return to normalcy.”
There was very little left for other films to run in theatres. Part of this is due to the fact that many multiplexes have chosen to pack their theaters with wall-to-wall “Doctor Strange” screenings. Film critic Matt Singer tweeted a photo of Manhattan AMC offering 70 screenings on Thursday alone.
Universal and DreamWorks Animation’s “The Bad Guys” fell to second place on its third weekend with an estimated $9.8 million, while “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” from Paramount dropped to third place with $6.2 million.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” took fourth place with $3.9 million, bringing its domestic total to $86 million. And in fifth place was another multiverse-themed film, “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” It had a slight decline in its seventh weekend, but it’s still gaining momentum with an additional $3.3 million from 1,542 screens in its seventh weekend in theaters. The A24 film grossed a total of $41.6 million.
The success of “Doctor Strange 2” only helps build momentum for big summer movies like “Top Gun: Maverick,” due out May 27.
“We’ve got a real summer movie season on our hands, something we didn’t imagine two years ago,” Dergarbadian said. “it’s been a long time coming.”
Estimated ticket sales in theaters in the US and Canada from Friday to Sunday, according to comScore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” $185 million.
2. “Bad Guys,” $9.8 million.
3. Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” $6.2 million.
4. “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” $3.9 million.
5. “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” $3.3 million.
6. “The Northman,” $2.8 million.
7. “The Lost City,” $2.5 million.
8. “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” $1.5 million.
9. “Memory,” $1.2 million.
10. “Father Stu,” $800,000.
Follow AP Film writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr