‘Downton 2’ Fails To Top ‘Doctor Strange 2’ In Weekend Battle of The Sequels
Even the strange sight of the lock-jawed Crawley clan frolicking on the French Riviera proved to be no match for the three-week-old Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness over the weekend as Downton Abbey: A New Era failed to unseat Marvel’s latest hand-over-fist blockbuster from the top spot in the battle of fan-service sequels. Landing slightly below expectations, Downton 2 debuted in the runner-up spot with a so-so $16 million while Benedict Cumberbatch’s superhero follow-up held onto first place for the third straight frame with a $31.6 million haul. Meanwhile, A24’s psychological horror film, Men, baffled audiences and bowed quietly in fifth place.

Proving that the third weekend can still be the charm, Disney’s Doctor Strange 2 continued to dominate multiplexes, grossing $31.6 million in North America—a dip of -48.8% from the previous session. The latest installment in the MCU scored a $6,969 per-screen average in 4,534 theaters, bringing its three-week domestic box-office total to $342.1 million. That number far surpasses the $232.6 million that the first Doctor Strange racked up during its entire North American run back in 2016. Overseas, the PG-13-rated tentpole is faring even better with $461.1 million in ticket sales. The film’s current worldwide tally now stands at $803.2 million and counting. However, its lock on the top spot should end next weekend when another sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, takes flight.

As previously mentioned, Focus Features’ Downton Abbey: A New Era opened in the number-two slot with a respectable $16 million. The PG-rated historical drama is the latest extension spun off from the beloved upstairs-downstairs British television series about the upper-crusty Crawley family and their gossipy staff. A New Era’s opening was slightly disappointing compared to the first Downton film’s $31 million bow back in 2019. However, critics and audiences lapped it up with a spoon (no doubt with their pinkies extended and a linen napkin on their laps). Reviewers gave it an 85% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and moviegoers handed it a straight-A CinemaScore grade. The feel-good follow-up, which stars Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, and Maggie Smith, and centers on the family’s trip to an inherited villa on the Cote d’Azur, scored a $4,193 per-screen average at 3,820 locations. Despite its mediocre finish, one interesting note is that nearly 50% of A New Era’s audience was aged 55 and over—a demographic that has been slow to return to theaters after the peak of the COVID pandemic. Also, the film did significantly better business internationally, where it raked in $35.7 million, bringing its first-week worldwide cume to $51.7 million.

In third place was Universal’s The Bad Guys with $6.1 million. In its fifth weekend, the PG-rated animated comedy about a gang of animal thieves who struggle to become model citizens dipped a mere -13.3% from the previous session, managing a $1,646 per-screen average in 3,705 theaters. The movie, which features the voices of Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Zazie Beetz, Craig Robinson, and Awkwafina, has now pulled in a combined $74.4 million domestically and another $107.8 from overseas, bringing it global box-office cume to $182.2 million.

In fourth was Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which took in $3.9 million in its seventh frame. The sequel fell -15.4% from the prior weekend, snagging a $1,338 per-screen average at 2,943 locations. The PG-rated follow-up to 2020’s franchise-starter, which features Jim Carrey, James Marsden, and the voice of Ben Schwartz as the blue critter of the title, has now wrangled an impressive $181 million in North America. Internationally, where Sonic 2 bowed a week earlier, the film has pulled in $194 million so far, putting its current global tally at $375 million.

Rounding out the top five was the weekend’s other noteworthy newcomer, Ex Machina director Alex Garland’s latest indie, Men, with a soft $3.3 million. The R-rated psychological chiller about a woman (Jessie Buckley) who takes a trip to the English countryside after her husband dies only to be haunted by a string of male antagonists, fared reasonably well with critics (75% on Rotten Tomatoes), but audiences were less than impressed, giving the movie a dismal D+ CinemaScore grade. Men earned a $1,448 per-screen average in 2,212 theaters in North America and has not opened yet internationally. Men’s box-office impotence certainly has to be a disappointment for its studio, A24. Then again, the company also saw its other recent release, Everything Everywhere All at Once, still hovering in sixth place after more than two months in theaters, inching past Adam Sandler’s Uncut Gems’ $50 million total to become the studio’s top-grossing film ever. In other words, sometimes you have to take the bad news with the good.