Huge opening for ‘Doctor Strange’ gives Hollywood a boost


NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 05: Benedict Cumberbatch attends the NY special screening of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 05, 2022 in New York City. Noam Galai/Getty Images for Disney/AFP (Photo by Noam Galai / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

LOS ANGELES – “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” enjoyed a blockbuster opening over the weekend, taking in an estimated $185 million, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.

That represented the biggest opening weekend of the year, the second-biggest of the pandemic era and the 11th biggest all time, analysts said.

“This is another sensational Marvel opening, by Marvel’s own dominant standard,” said David A. Gross of Franchise Entertainment Research.

The superhero sequel, directed by Sam Raimi and distributed by Disney, again stars Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, backed by Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejofor and Rachel McAdams.

The complicated plot — how could a multiverse story not be complicated? — includes alternate universes, witches and sorcerers, death and revival, and even an octopus demon.

With the huge bump from “Dr. Strange,” the weekend’s estimated gross offered more evidence of Hollywood’s return from the darkest pandemic days: It was nearly 10 times the $22 million from the same weekend last year.

“Strange” shoved Universal’s animated action-comedy “The Bad Guys” out of the top spot where it had resided for two weeks. The DreamWorks Animation production took in $9.8 million for the Friday-through-Sunday period.

In third, also down one spot from last weekend, was Paramount’s family-friendly “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” at $6.2 million.

Warner Bros.’ “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” the latest episode in the “Harry Potter” prequel series, also slipped a notch, to fourth, at $4 million.

And with multiverse-based films seemingly everywhere, A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once” held to fifth spot, at $3.3 million. Michelle Yeoh stars as a beleaguered laundromat owner who is called on to save, well, pretty much everything.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

“The Northman” ($2.8 million)

“The Lost City” ($2.5 million)

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” ($1.5 million)

“Memory” ($1.2 million)

“Father Stu” ($800,000)

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