The return of the summer box office is here after two years of woe due to the pandemic.
Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness kicks off the action this weekend as it rolls out across the globe. So far, so good. On Wednesday, the Marvel Studios pic grossed an impressive $27.2 million from 20 material markets, according to Disney. The tally does not include preview grosses in Latin America and Australia.
The Sam Raimi-directed sequel — returning Benedict Cumberbatch in the titular role — lands in North America Thursday night. Tracking suggests the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe will gross anywhere from $160 million to $180 million in its domestic debut and more than $300 million globally. More bullish observers put those figures higher, but concede it all depends on how front-loaded the $200 million movie is.
While overall attendance is still down compared to pre-pandemic times, moviegoer confidence is at an all-time high. And throughout the COVID-19 crisis, superhero pics — led by Spider-Man: No Way Home —did the most business.
Internationally, the opening day gross for Doc Strange 2 was only four percent behind the recent spider-man pic and 210 percent ahead of rival DC’s batman. It was 153 percent ahead of the first Doctor Strangereleased in 2016. The character Stephen Strange has since appeared in other MCU movies, including playing a pivotal role in No Way Home.
Among key markets, South Korea led Wednesday with $5.9 million, followed by Japan ($3.8 million), France ($3 million), Italy ($2.2 million), Germany ($1.8 million), Malaysia ($1.6 million) and Thailand ($1.2 million).
The film opened No. 1 in all markets in Europe and the Asia Pacific, in addition to boasting one of the best starts of the pandemic era. In South Korea, the sequel scored the second-highest opening day in history for any Disney release behind Avengers: Endgame.
Ahead of officially opening in Latin America on Thursday, the Marvel tentpole rang up $10.3 million in previews across the region, including $3.5 million in Mexico. In Australia, it earned $1.9 million in Wednesday evening previews, which Disney says is a record.
Doc Strange 2 isn’t expected to play in China, where Hollywood event films are having a difficult time gaining entry. Disney also isn’t presently releasing any of its movies in Russia because of the invasion of Ukraine.
The Marvel film picks up where Spider-Man: No Way Home left off and finds the quirky superhero coming to the assistance of a young girl named America Chaves (Xochitl Gomez), who can jump across various universes. Now, a demonic force is trying to steal her powers from her.
Part sentimental, part horror, part comedy and always action-packed, the adventure that ensues sees Stephen Strange face off with The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), meet up with an old flame (Rachel McAdams), enlist the aid of a former sidekick who has now transformed into the Sorcerer Supreme (Benedict Wong) and encounter Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor).
The well-reviewed Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is rated PG-13.