The Marvel Cinematic Universe is undoubtedly one of the biggest franchises in the film industry today, but not all of their installments are created equal. As one would expect, some of their characters are more popular than others; Iron Man is inherently going to bring in more than Ant-Man. It’s for this reason that it’s interesting each time the studio introduces a new face to the already substantial roster of Avengers. This fall’s Doctor Strange is based on a comic book property that isn’t as high-profile as some of its contemporaries, so the big question was how much the movie would make in its opening weekend domestically, after getting out to a strong start internationally.
Not only did Doctor Strange have the Marvel branding, it also earned very positive reviews (read ours), many of which praised the unique visual style – which almost demanded to be seen on the biggest of screens. That combination definitely gave the project a commercial boost, and as suggested by the Friday grosses, the fourteenth entry in the mega-series surpassed even the rosiest commercial expectations during its first three days in North America.
Per Variety, Doctor Strange made an impressive $85 million, which is the tenth-highest debut in the history of the MCU. That figure is well ahead of the $57.2 million posted by Ant-Man last summer, and a clear indication that audiences want to see more of the Sorcerer Supreme. Star Benedict Cumberbatch is already signed on for Avengers: Infinity War, but this development all but guarantees Doctor Strange 2 will be coming through the pipeline soon.
As of this writing, Doctor Strange has already made $325.3 million globally, meaning that it is well on its way to turning a nice profit off of its $165 million production budget (which does not include marketing costs). In terms of where the film will end up at the end of its run, 2013’s Thor: The Dark World probably provides the most accurate benchmark. That movie opened with $85.7 million in November of that year, en route to $206.3 million domestically. It’s important to keep in mind that Warner Bros. will premiere the Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in a couple of weeks, and that tentpole is poised to be a massive earner as well. In all likelihood, Doctor Strange will be able to repeat in the top spot next week, but it may not have a prolonged run as #1 similar to Guardians of the Galaxy (which won four out of its first six weekends).
Nevertheless, this is a tremendous start for Doctor Strange and is further illustration that Marvel can turn just about anything into a successful movie. The performance of Stephen Strange’s first outing should only give the studio more confidence moving forward, as characters such as Black Panther and Captain Marvel will headline their own solo vehicles in the coming years. They’ve spent the last eight years building a reputation of delivering quality entertainment that can connect with audiences, no matter how bizarre the concepts might sound on-paper. There’s still much to explore in the Doctor Strange mythos, so fortunately the filmmakers will get that chance.