Marvel Studios and Disney’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is on course to score $185 million to $200 million in its domestic debut and land one of the biggest openings of all time domestically after earning an enormous $90 million on Friday.
Disney is being more conservative in suggesting an opening weekend in the $170 million to $185 range.
Friday’s haul — which includes $36 million in previews — is the seventh biggest opening day of all time and gives the Marvel Cinematic Universe five of the top 10 opening days ever. It also is more than the entire opening weekends of 10 MCU titles, including the first Doctor Strangewhich opened to $85.1 million in 2016.
Directed by Sam Raimi, the tentpole returns Benedict Cumberbatch to the titular role. Doctor Strange 2 began opening overseas on Wednesday, earning an impressive $139.3 million through Friday for an early global total of $229.3 million. The generally well-reviewed film earned a B+ CinemaScore, and so far is being fueled by moviegoers between ages 18-34. Males made up more than 62 percent of ticket buyers on Friday.
The sequel’s performance so far is a huge victory as it officially kicks off the summer 2022 box office season. After two years of struggle due the pandemic, Hollywood studios are preparing to release a parade of delayed tentpoles.
Friday’s haul for Doctor Strange 2 included $36 million in Thursday evening previews, the eighth-best preview gross ever behind Avengers: Infinity War in 2018, not adjusted for inflation. That includes $4.3 million from Imax, its fifth-biggest preview number ever.
Doctor Strange 2 is playing in 4,545 theaters, the widest location count of the pandemic and the fifth-biggest of all time, another sign that the movie business is emerging from COVID-19 after more than two years of fits and starts.
Another draw: Imax and other cinema operators are heavily promoting the fact that the first teaser trailer for James Cameron’s sequel Avatar: The Way of Water is premiering exclusively in theaters.
While overall attendance is still down compared to before the pandemic, moviegoer confidence is at an all-time high as a parade of summer tentpoles waits in the wings to finally open.
The first Doctor Strange opened to $85 million domestically in 2016, launching a new franchise for Marvel. Cumberbatch’s character gained even more visibility when he appeared in Avengers: Infinity War and, much more recently, Sony and Marvel’s $1.9 billion blockbuster Spider-Man: No Way Homewhich grossed a near-record $122 million on its first Friday (including $50 million in previews) on its way to a $260.1 million domestic debut.
If it hits $200 million, Raimi’s movie would boast the sixth biggest opening for a superhero title behind Black Panther ($202 million), The Avengers ($207.3 million), Avengers: Infinity War ($257.7 million), Spider-Man: No Way Home ($260.1 million) and Avengers: Endgame ($357.1 million).
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness pick up where No Way Home left off, with Stephen Strange coming to the assistance of a young girl named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) who can jump across various universes. Now, however, a demonic force is trying to steal her powers.
Part sentimental, part horror, part comedy and always action-packed, the adventure that ensues sees the quirky superhero face-off with the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), meet up with an old flame (Rachel McAdams), enlist the aid of a former sidekick who has now transformed into the Sorcerer Supreme (Benedict Wong) and encounters Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor). There are also key cameos regarding other MCU properties, but readers won’t find any spoilers here.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is rated PG-13.
May 5, 7:55 am Updated with Friday grosses and revised estimates.