Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” has given the box office the sort of pre-pandemic summer launch that analysts expected with a studio-estimated $450 million worldwide opening, including a $185 million opening in the U.S. from 4,534 locations.
Though $185 million is below the $202 million opening that industry estimates had following the MCU film’s $90 million opening day, it is still at the top of the $170-185 million estimate that Disney posted. And globally, its $450 million opening is second only to “Spider-Man: No Way Home” for worldwide openings since the COVID-19 pandemic began and the highest for any film in 2022.
It’s also the biggest lift in numbers for an MCU sequel compared to its predecessor, with the domestic opening being a full $100 million higher than what the first “Doctor Strange” earned in 2016. Among all 28 MCU films, “Doctor Strange 2” ranks fourth in global openings behind only “Avengers: Endgame,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “No Way Home.”
Like the first “Doctor Strange,” which lent itself to high interest in premium formats with its surreal imagery, “Multiverse of Madness” has seen strong PLF revenue with Imax reporting $33 million in global grosses from the film — a new May record for the company — and Disney reporting 36% of all domestic grosses coming from premium formats.
This includes 9% from 3D screenings, similar to what “Spider-Man: Far From Home” got in summer 2019. While 3D likely will never return to its early 2010s boom period, this result should be a good omen for James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which got its first trailer released exclusively for “Doctor Strange 2” screenings and which is expected to draw strong interest in 3D like its record-setting 2009 predecessor.
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” should continue to drive robust turnout over the next two weeks before the market gets more support from films like “Downton Abbey: A New Era,” “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” and “Top Gun: Maverick.”
However, weekend drops may be steeper than for the “Avengers” films that have released in this summer kickoff slot, as “Doctor Strange 2” earned a B+ on CinemaScore, joining “Thor” and “Eternals” as the third MCU film to not get an A or A- from audiences. But with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 75% critics and 87% audience and a 4/5 on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak, reception is still generally positive, and we will see how an early summer MCU film performs with good word-of-mouth as opposed to overwhelming acclaim.
“Doctor Strange 2” is accounting for 84% of all estimated grosses at theaters this weekend, with no other films topping $10 million in their holdover totals. But Universal/DreamWorks’ “The Bad Guys” is doing decently as an alternative for families with younger children with $9.7 million in its third weekend, giving it a $57.5 million domestic total. This is unsurprising considering that “Doctor Strange 2” reported that kids under the age of 12 were just 4% of its opening weekend audience.
Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” is in third with $6.2 million in its fifth weekend, giving it a $170 million domestic total as it approaches $350 million worldwide. Warner Bros.’ “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” is fourth with $3.95 million in its fourth weekend and an $86 million domestic total.
Completing the Top 5 is the other big multiverse film in theaters, A24/AGBO’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” The Daniels film’s weekend totals slipped below $5 million for the first time in a month with $3.3 million grossed in its fifth weekend in wide release. With a total of $41.5 million, it is now the fourth A24 release to cross $40 million in domestic grosses and should pass the $44 million total of the 2018 horror film “Hereditary” in the coming week.