Latest Marvel Movie Kickstarts Summer Blockbuster Season With Massive Debut
It’s the type of comeback story Hollywood simply adores. The big, bad heavy has suffered an unexpected blow (that would be the film-industry-paradigm-destroying Netflix and its dire recent earnings results). Now, an old-school hero — the traditional movie-theater business — has a chance to prove there’s still some gas left in the tank.
This weekend, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, the latest installment in Disney and Marvel’s long-running, uber-successful costumed Avengers franchise, scored one of the biggest domestic box-office debuts of all time. This could be the beginning of a rollicking, sequels-and-superheroes-fueled summer movie season.
Dr. Strange Love (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Return to Theaters)
The Doctor Strange sequel is the 28th installment in Disney’s big-screen dizzying universe of superheroes. The House of Mouse knows how to keep fans coming back for more, coercing general movie audiences to actually leave the comfort of their streaming-stocked living rooms in droves to buy tickets at their local theaters.
The film earned $185 million domestically, and a face-melting $450 million worldwide. That’s good for the biggest opening of the year (besting Warner and DC’s The Batman’s $135 million domestic debut), the second-largest opening of the pandemic era (behind fellow Marvel superhero flick Spider-Man: No Way Home), and the eleventh biggest launch in Hollywood history (six of the other top spots also belong to Marvel properties).
The enormous success could indicate a strong summer movie season to come, with tentpole releases like Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World: Dominion, and Thor: Love and Thunder (yet another Marvel sequel) on the docket. While Doctor Strange may signal a return to form for big Hollywood studios, non-franchise and independent films have struggled to gain a foothold on the big screen:
- The Northman, a well-received Viking-themed revenge tale with a reported $90 million budget, has earned just $50 million worldwide since its April 22 release. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, a Nicholas Cage vehicle that was released the same day to similarly positive reviews, has earned just $20 million worldwide so far.
- Doctor Strange 2 opened in 4,545 theaters, the highest count of the post-pandemic era and the fifth-highest of all time. In one extreme example, AMC’s Times Square location hosted 70 screenings on its opening day — taking valuable screen real estate from other films.
Hollywood may be celebrating, but cinephiles and moviegoers sick of spandex-clad celebrities may be happier sticking to their streaming services at home.