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‘Doctor Strange 2’ conjures up biggest opening of 2022 at the US box office (no spoilers)

This image released by Marvel Studios shows, from left, Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, Benedict Wong as Wong, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange.
This image released by Marvel Studios shows, from left, Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, Benedict Wong as Wong, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange.   -   Copyright  Courtesy of Marvel Studios/Marvel Studios 2022 via AP
By Julie Gaubert  with AP

The summer movie season is off to a blockbuster start thanks to ‘Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.’

The superhero extravaganza grossed an estimated $185 million (about €175 million) in ticket sales in its first weekend in US and Canadian theatres, the Walt Disney Co. said Sunday.

The sequel to the adventures of the red-cloaked wizard sees the Marvel hero played by Benedict Cumberbatch explore parallel worlds, and it is leaving only crumbs for the competition.

According to AP, not only did it more than double the opening of the first ‘Doctor Strange,’ which took $85 million in 2016 (€81 million) but it’s also the biggest opener of the year, ahead of ‘The Batman’, which made $134 million (more than €127 million).

This is the second-best launch since the start of the coronavirus pandemic behind ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home,’ which also visited parallel worlds in 2021 and brought in a cool $260 million (more than €247 million), the sixth-highest grossing film of all time.

“Summer blockbuster season is off to a roaring start with ‘Doctor Strange' — an excellent sign for the phenomenal slate ahead,” Rich Gelfond, the CEO of IMAX, said in a statement.

Internationally, it’s doing equally well, with an estimated $265 million (more than €252 million) since opening Wednesday.

MCU dominates the top of the box office

As the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) continue to expand and cross-reference each other, it sometimes seems like you need a graduate degree in myths and superheroes to enjoy a film. 

This second Doctor Strange feature film is full of references to previous films, but also to the Marvel series on Disney+ such as ‘WandaVision’ and ‘Loki’, which may only be understood by the initiated. At the very least it’s worth revising a little before buying your cinema ticket for Doctor Strange 2 otherwise, you'll miss a ton of winks (and maybe even half of the plot).

Spider-Man is at least partially to thank for this film’s massive debut. Benedict Cumberbatch’s powerful sorcerer appeared prominently in ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home.’

“This is a total win for the industry for whom the last two summers almost didn’t exist in terms of box office,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. “Marvel has been kicking off summers for over a decade. This is a return to normalcy.”

Hollywood's summer movie season typically kicks off in early May and runs through the end of August and — aside from the last two years — regularly accounts for over $4 billion in ticket sales (about 40 per cent of the year's gross income) in the US, according to AP.

The success of ‘Doctor Strange 2’ shows that the box office has moved on from the dark days of the pandemic.

A beasty success

Over the weekend, the film has trended on social media for everything from its many cameos to a spirited debate over its PG-13 rating and whether or not the horror elements warranted something more restrictive.

In an act of benevolence, we will spare you from spoilers, and rather share this tweet from Film Critic Matt Singer showing a Manhattan AMC offering 70 screenings on Thursday alone.

Other movies out this week are lagging far behind the cloak and lycra-dressed superhero.

‘Doctor Strange 2’ is ahead of the animated film ‘The Bad Guys,’ starring outlaw animals trying to become good guys - which has taken in only € 9 million in three days.

In third place is another animal star, a famous blue hedgehog, who collected €5.8 million with ‘Sonic 2.’

Yet more animals in fourth place, this time fantasy ones, with ‘Dumbledore's Secrets,’ a new episode in the saga derived from the world of Harry Potter. The film took in €3.7 million.

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once,’ a feature film that also travels to the absurd in a universe of parallel worlds, rounded out the top five with €3.1 million in its 7th week.