Box Office: Doctor Strange 2 Opens to Astonishing $36 Million in Previews

This sorcerer still reigns supreme.

Disney and Marvel’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” earned a formidable $36 million in Thursday previews, setting the stage for what could be a massive $175 million-plus debut this weekend. This ranks as the eighth largest preview performance ever, behind “Avengers: Infinity War’s” $39 million in 2018. Its launch should boost morale in Hollywood, which could use the lift these days, what with all the mergers, layoffs and sliding share prices. It also officially kicks off the summer blockbuster season, a time of year that will see the releases of “Jurassic World: Dominion,” “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the kind of four-quadrant fare that theater owners hope will help continue their rebound from COVID closures.

But that’s what’s unfolding at a macro level. When it comes to “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” the results demonstrate the enduring popularity of all things Marvel, a kind of appeal that can withstand even the most pernicious public health crisis. The second “Doctor Strange” adventure has already been minting moolah overseas, picking up $85.7 million to date from more than 40 overseas markets, including France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Korea. It should gross $125 million to $140 million in foreign markets through Sunday.

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” brings back Benedict Cumberbatch as the goatee-rocking conjurer and boasts an ensemble that includes Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong and Rachel McAdams. There’s also some MCU cameos that will send fans into raptures. Sam Raimi, who basically ushered in the modern comic-book movie era with the original “Spider-Man” trilogy, directs. Like “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” the other COVID-era mega-hit, “Doctor Strange” delves deep into the multiverse, which enables costumed heroes from various timelines to have a grand old time together. It’s a formula that proved to be quite popular with “No Way Home,” which became a must-see movie event and grossed $1.89 billion worldwide, even as omicron imperiled the box office.

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