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‘Doctor Strange’ Dominates With $85 Million Opening
The sheer predictability is almost becoming tiresome. Another Marvel opening, another blazing box office success for the studio behind Captain America, the Hulk, and Iron Man.
This time it’s Stephen Strange’s turn to dominate the multiplexes, after “Doctor Strange,” the first big-screen appearance for the Master of the Mystic Arts, notched a first place finish with a $85 million debut. The film centers on a brilliant surgeon (Benedict Cumberbatch) who turns to magic after a devastating accident prevents him from plying his craft. Future appearances in the Avengers films are assured. The success of “Doctor Strange” extends Marvel’s hit streak. In recent years, the studio and, by extension, its parent company Disney, have been particularly adroit at turning lesser-known superheroes into blue chip properties.
“Doctor Strange” wasn’t the only film to resonate with consumers. “Trolls,” a DreamWorks Animation offering based on the popular toyline of imaginatively coiffed creatures, drew family crowds to the tune of $45.6 million. “Trolls” features the voices of Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick. It cost $125 million to produce.
Lionsgate’s “Hacksaw Ridge,” a World War II drama from Mel Gibson, kicked off with a respectable $14.7 million. The film hopes to be an awards contender. Though Gibson won an Oscar for his work on “Braveheart,” his career was derailed a decade ago after he was arrested for drunk driving and was recorded making anti-Semitic remarks. “Hacksaw Ridge” has a $40 million budget.
“Doctor Strange’s” opening trumps those of “Thor” ($65.7 million), “Captain America: The First Avenger” ($65 million) and “Ant-Man” ($57.2 million). That’s impressive given that Captain America and Thor are better known figures. Still the good doctor couldn’t quite reach the stratospheric likes of “Iron Man” ($98.6 million), “Captain America: Civil War” ($179.1 million) or “Marvel’s The Avengers” ($207.4 million). Those films benefited from having Robert Downey Jr. and featuring bands of superheroes. “Doctor Strange” wasn’t cheap to make. Disney and Marvel spent $165 million to give the Sorcerer Supreme the celluloid treatment.
Globally, the film is a monster, having earned $240.4 million since it began rolling out overseas last week. That includes a $44.3 million debut in China, with Korea ($30.4 million), the United Kingdom ($18.9 million), and Russia ($15.4 million) among the top-performing territories.
“Doctor Strange” played well in Imax, earning $24.2 million globally. The film’s worldwide total stands at $325.4 million. Earlier this week, Disney announced that it had reached a new high-water mark for global ticket sales with $5.85 billion. The box office power of “Doctor Strange” coupled with upcoming releases such as “Moana” and “Star Wars: Rogue One,” mean that Disney is on pace to set a new industry-wide record, passing the $6.89 billion mark established by Universal in 2015.
In limited release, Focus Features debuted “Loving,” a drama about the court battle to end state bans on interracial marriage. The film earned $169,000 from four theaters. Focus bought the film out of the Venice Film Festival, as part of a shift in strategy that has the indie label returning to its art house roots. The company briefly tried to make more genre works, such as horror films and thrillers, but ultimately abandoned that strategy in the face of disappointing commercial results.
“Moonlight,” perhaps the most acclaimed film of the year, continued to impress as it widened its theatrical footprint. The drama about a young black man grappling with his sexuality added $1.3 million to its $3 million haul. It is playing in 83 theaters.
More to come…
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