The latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange, opened in theaters this weekend. The film, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular character, is Marvel’s first major foray into magic and the mystic arts. As it stands currently, Rotten Tomatoes has the Sorcerer Supreme notching a phenomenal 90% from the critics and 91% from the users. Initial projections had Doctor Strange opening this weekend between $65 and $70 million, however, the film’s $9.4 million from Thursday night previews (more than both Ant-Man and Thor: The Dark World) suggested the number could be even higher.
With Thursday night previews normally accounting for 30-35% of a film’s Friday gross, it was expected that Doctor Strange could nab $26-31 million on its opening day. For comparison, Marvel’s last November release, Thor: The Dark World, opened to just shy of $32 million on Friday, before grossing $85 million in its opening weekend. Well, the numbers are in, and Doctor Strange has surpassed the God of Thunder’s opening day tally.
Variety is reporting that Doctor Strange earned $32.6 million Friday, which raises its opening weekend projections to $84 million. If those projections hold, the film will come just short of Thor: The Dark World‘s opening weekend tally. That being said, Deadline is reporting that film goers have given Doctor Strange an ‘A’ Cinemascore, suggesting extremely positive word of mouth, which could lead to an even higher opening. For reference, Thor: The Dark World received an ‘A-‘ Cinemascore.
Even if Doctor Strange is able to outgross the Thor sequel, it is unlikely that it will catch the opening weekend of the next highest MCU film, Guardians of the Galaxy. That film went on to gross just over $94 million in its opening weekend after a $37 million Friday. Even so, Marvel continues to prove that its films are as close to a sure thing at the box office as they come. The comic giant has now shown that unproven, perhaps even risky, properties like Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy can be box office successes. And that theme runs true with Doctor Strange as well.
Doctor Strange marks the last MCU film of 2016, before Marvel begins releasing three movies a year starting in 2017. Next year will see the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok, before 2018 will bring the biggest film of them all – Avengers: Infinity War.