‘Doctor Strange 2’ Kicks Off Blockbuster Season, Conjuring A Magical $185 Million Opening
While the calendar says it’s still technically spring for another month and a half, the summer blockbuster season officially kicked off over Mother’s Day weekend thanks to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ whopping $185 million domestic bow. With no new major competition (who in their right minds would even dare to go up against it?), the latest chapter in the hand-over-fist Marvel Cinematic Universe instantly became the biggest box-office debut of 2022, trouncing its cross-town DC rival, The Batman, and its $134 million opening just two months ago.

Pulling in $90 million on Friday alone, it was clear right off the bat that Disney’s eagerly-awaited follow-up to 2016’s Doctor Strange (again starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role) was on a record-shattering pace. By the time the dust had settled and all of the receipts had been counted two days later, director Sam Raimi’s first superhero film since wrapping the original Spider-Man trilogy back in 2007 had become the second-highest grossing film in North America since the pandemic began, bested only by Spider-Man: No Way Home. With a 75% fresh rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, the PG-13-rated Doctor Strange 2 earned a staggering $40,802 per-screen average in 4,534 theaters. The MCU’s latest tentpole fared even better overseas, where it raked in $265 million in 49 international territories (not including China, where it has not yet been given a release date, and Russia due to its war in Ukraine). Its cumulative worldwide box office tally after its first weekend is $450 million—$33 million of which came from IMAX screens. In comparison, the first Doctor Strange earned $677.8 million worldwide during its entire theatrical run. Doctor Strange 2’s massive debut is just the latest confirmation that when it comes to the box office, there is the MCU and then there’s everyone else. After all, the franchise’s four 2021 releases accounted for nearly 30% of all tickets sold in North America last year.

Elsewhere, the box-office charts remained largely unchanged from the previous session, with Universal’s The Bad Guys finishing in second place with $9.8 million. In its third frame, the PG-rated animated crowd-pleaser about a gang of animal thieves who struggle to become model citizens dropped -39.8% from the previous weekend, managing a $2,544 per-screen average at 3,839 locations. The movie, which features the voices of Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Zazie Beetz, Craig Robinson, and Awkwafina, has now collected $57.6 million domestically, boosted by an additional $90.6 million from overseas, bringing its three-week global cume to $148.1 million.

In third place was Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which took in $6.2 million in its fifth weekend in theaters. The sequel slipped -46.3% from the previous session, scoring a $1,846 per-screen average in 3,358 theaters. The PG-rated follow-up to 2020’s franchise-starter, which features Jim Carrey, James Marsden, and the voice of Ben Schwartz as the titular blue critter, has now racked up $169.9 million in North America. Internationally, where Sonic 2 bowed a week earlier, the film has pulled in $179.5 million so far, bringing its current worldwide tally to $349.4 million.

In fourth was the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore with just under $4 million. Dropping -52.5% from the prior weekend, the PG-13-rated fantasy is quickly running out of box-office magic. The third film in Warner Bros.’ proposed five-film Fantastic Beasts cycle notched a $1,294 per-screen average at 3,051 locations. The film, which stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, and Jude Law as Dumbledore, has taken in a softer-than-anticipated $86 million in North America in its first four weeks. It remains a serious question whether the movie will break the $100-million mark domestically. Overseas, however, the Potter-adjacent film has been performing better, accumulating $277.7 million to date. Its worldwide cume now stands at $363.7 million.

Rounding out the top five was the year’s indie success story Everything Everywhere All at Once. A24’s R-rated title pulled in $3.3 million in its seventh week of release—a drop-off of 40% from the previous session. The weird, wacky genre-defying dark comedy about a woman (Michelle Yeoh) who enters a visually daffy multiverse, earned a $2,155 per-screen average in 1,542 theaters. A24’s “little indie that could” has raked in $41.6 million in its first seven weeks of release and a modest $3.9 million internationally, putting its current global cume at $45.4 million.

For now, though, all eyes are on The Multiverse of Madness and trying to predict just how many millions it can rake in before the summer season’s other tentpoles begin to roll into multiplexes. It should certainly have the box-office playing field all to itself until the arrival of Top Gun: Maverick on May 27, followed by Jurassic World Dominion on June 10 and the next MCU installment, Thor: Love and Thunder, on July 8.