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‘Doctor Strange’ to Astound With Magical $80 Million Debut

”Trolls“ on track for $44 million, ”Hacksaw Ridge“ heads for $14 million

The debut weekend for Disney-Marvel’s mystical “Doctor Strange” has gotten a major upgrade, now expected to earn north of $80 million after making $32.6 million on Friday night alone.

That’s significantly higher than predictions of $73 million made earlier in the week (though Disney is being more conservative with current estimates set in the high seventies).

The Benedict Cumberbatch movie has already amassed more than $100 million overseas and will be the 14th consecutive Marvel Cinematic Universe title to debut in first place domestically.

The first film adaptation of the comic book is poised to bring in a tidy sum from 3,882 locations this weekend against its sizable production budget of $165 million — not counting marketing costs.

DreamWorks Animation’s “Trolls,” playing in 4,060 theaters, is being distributed by Twentieth Century Fox — a leftover from DWA’s output deal before it was acquired by Universal’s Comcast earlier this year.

“Trolls,” which features the voices of pop stars Justin Timberlake and Gwen Stefani, along with Anna Kendrick, Zooey Deschanel, and more, is now expected to end its debut weekend with $44 million, slightly lower than the $47 million predicted by trackers earlier in the week. It earned $12.3 million on Friday alone.

The animated feature, made for a reported $125 million, revolves around an extremely happy Troll named Poppy (Kendrick), who teams up with the grumpy Branch (Timberlake) to rescue her friends from invaders.

“Trolls” is on track to be the fourth biggest opening of the year for an animated feature, behind Disney’s “Zootopia” — which went on to top $1 billion worldwide.

It has a 74 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and an A CinemaScore — given by those surveyed on opening night.

Mel Gibson marks his directorial return with Cross Creek Pictures’ World War II drama “Hacksaw Ridge,” being distributed by Lionsgate and playing in 2,886 locations. And it’s already receiving heavy awards season buzz.

Starring Andrew Garfield as a conscientious objector who saved dozens of soldiers’ lives in Japan, the film is now expected to bow to roughly $14 million. That’s a solid opening for a film reported to have cost $40 million to make, not counting the marketing spend.

It made $5.2 million on Friday and has an 87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a solid A CinemaScore.

Meanwhile, “Doctor Strange” has a 90 percent on the reviews aggregation site and also an A CinemaScore.

Current predictions seat it 19th among Marvel openings. It should now easily come in ahead of Fox’s “X-Men Apocalypse,” which debuted at $65.8 million earlier this year. It’s also well ahead of the debuts of Disney-Marvel’s “Ant-Man” ($57 million) and “Captain America: The First Avenger” ($65 million).

But “Doctor Strange” would have to best expectations by a few more million in order to beat “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” for 18th place. The Fox film starring Hugh Jackman opened to $85.1 million in 2009.

Regardless, anywhere near $80 million is a massive achievement for an inaugural comic book film — especially one based on a relatively unfamiliar Marvel property not previously seen on the big screen.

Among Hollywood studios, Disney currently has the largest market share of box office grosses this year with $2.15 billion, or 23.4 percent. Warner Bros. is a distant second with $1.63 billion or 17.6 percent.

With tentpole films “Doctor Strange,” Disney’s animated “Moana” and also Lucasfilm’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” set to come out, Disney could end the year with an even higher percentage of the pie. But Warner still has a potential monster hit in its back pocket with the adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

“Doctor Strange” follows the story of talented neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange who, after a tragic car accident, must put ego aside and learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions.

Based in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Strange must act as an intermediary between the real world and what lies beyond, utilizing a vast array of metaphysical abilities and artifacts to protect the Marvel cinematic universe.

Directed by Scott Derrickson (“Sinister”), the movie also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, Amy Landecker and Scott Adkins.