Another weekend, another big victory for Marvel Studios and Doctor Strange. The latest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe pulled in an estimated $43 million, lifting the North American total to $153 million. Veterans Day played a big part in the bumper weekend for all films, not just the one featuring the Sorcerer Supreme. (Veterans Day is always on November 11, so it only creates a three day weekend about half of the time.) Doctor Strange had the highest second Friday take of any MCU solo hero debut.
As good as the news is domestically, it’s even better internationally. Doctor Strange is currently running on a trajectory that will lift it above most of the MCU’s offerings, pulling up in fifth place, behind the two Avengers films and the third offerings of Iron Man and Captain America. This means that in overall globe box office, the first foray into Marvel magic is lapping other Marvel movies on literally a daily basis.
To zoom out a little farther, the positive reception of the film is a good thing for Disney and the film industry at large. Disney has officially set their own all-time annual records for domestic and global box office. They now have the global record for any studio ($6.89 billion last year by Universal) firmly in their sights. Disney has their latest animated feature Moana and another Star Wars film Rogue One in their back pocket. What Disney has built is a true juggernaut of film properties. They can roll out 2-3 Marvel movies, 1-2 animated films, 1-2 Pixar films (Pixar is a different arm of the company than the traditional animated studios), a live action reboot of their animated classics, and a Star Wars film every year. While nothing is a sure thing in Hollywood, it’s been a while since any of those pipelines have misfired. Even poor results for the Alice in Wonderland sequel and the BFG flop have not really dented the Disney train. As that stable of properties continues and expands (Indiana Jones films are coming and Pirates of the Carribean also returns soon) Disney will start to be more mindful of how to place movies so they don’t compete against themselves.
That said, the results over the last couple weeks have shown that multiple films can thrive if they are diverse enough in their content. Trolls, Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, and Almost Christmas are all doing relatively well, despite opening against Doctor Strange. They have their own varying niche markets which come out to support them, even if a larger release is in theaters. This phenomenon means that studios have some freedom in counter-programming and need not have weekends all to themselves.
For those looking for other milestones coming, Doctor Strange will pass the global take of Ant-Man in another day or two. Longer term the film has an opportunity to race past Captain America: Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, but neither is a sure thing. A lot will come down to how it holds up when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them hits theaters worldwide. The two films have a certain similarity with their focus on magic and the pent-up Harry Potter-verse demand is high. My guess is that it will beat the former MCU film, but not the latter.
Have you seen Doctor Strange as second or third time? Have you had non-comic loving friends see it? Where do you think it will land in the MCU Box Office charts? Share your thoughts below in the comments.