The prognosis is excellent for Disney’s “Doctor Strange,” after the Marvel Cinematic Universe film took in a healthy $9.4 million in Thursday previews.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays the title physician in the film, Marvel’s first since May’s “Captain America: Civil War,” which went on to a $179 million opening weekend and $1.1 billion worldwide.
“Doctor Strange” isn’t expected to reach those heights — after all, its titular character isn’t as well known as Captain America — but it could open to as much as $73 million, although Disney is forecasting a more conservative $65 million debut. The movie, which will open on 3,882 screens, has already made $133 million overseas. And critics love it, giving “Doctor Strange” a 90 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Cumberbatch’s Dr. Stephen Strange is a gifted — and aware of it — neurosurgeon who crashes his sports car and loses the use of his hands. Desperate to have his defining identity back, he eventually ends up in Nepal, where he trains under a sorcerer and experiences a mystical world with multiple dimensions.
“Sinister” director Scott Derrickson helmed “Doctor Strange,” which also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, Amy Landecker and Scott Adkins.
The movie’s expected strong performance should only add to Disney’s banner 2016, as the studio has already set a record for worldwide box office receipts in a single year.
Fox’s “Trolls” — the last DreamWorks film from the now-NBCUniversal-owned studio’s former output deal — held down second place at the Thursday night box office, reeling in $900,000 in previews.
The movie, based on the colorfully-coiffed toys and starring a voice cast including Justin Timberlake, Gwen Stefani, Anna Kendrick and Zooey Deschanel, is expected to open to $47 million, although Fox is prognosticating something in the high-$30 million range across 4,060 screens.
The animated flick follows an overly happy Troll named Poppy (Kendrick), who teams up with curmudgeonly Branch (Timberlake) to save her friends. “Trolls” should be a hit with family audiences — and won over critics as well, with a 76 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating.
Mel Gibson’s directorial comeback “Hacksaw Ridge” placed third at the Thursday box office, making $750,000 across more than 2,200 North American screens.
The Cross Creek/Lionsgate World War II drama starring Andrew Garfield as a conscientious objector is getting some awards buzz and has a sterling 87 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Going opposite “Doctor Strange” and “Trolls” will keep it in third place, although the film is projected to make a solid $16 million during its opening weekend. It expands to 2,886 theaters Friday.