The box office numbers for Thursday night and Friday are in, Doctor Strange is quite simply smashing expectations. Smashing is probably too tame a term. The film already has earned $32.6 million, and likely will land in the low $80 million range by the time this weekend is done. Such a number wouldn’t put the film in the November release opening weekend top ten, but it would be close. (That list all comes from four major franchises, Twilight, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and James Bond. Also, most of those are more Thanksgiving window releases.)
Of particular note on the early numbers is how far ahead of expectations they are. When the first forecasts hit the internet it was looking like the movie would make as little as $55 million. This week the prognosticators were more hopeful, but thought that the mid $70 million mark was the ceiling. Obviously, all those numbers are sitting in the rear view mirror, assuming Sunday’s take doesn’t fall into an interdimensional abyss. The final will be somewhere between 10% and 50% above the early projections.
It will be interesting to see the breakdown of why the film did so well. It is safe to say at this point that Trolls was brilliant counter-programming which didn’t distract from the Marvel film, just offered an option for families with kids or those who don’t like comic movies. Likely the IMAX and 3D upcharges are a contributor here too, as Marvel pushed those elements as essential parts of the viewing experience.
The big question now will be what kind of legs the Doctor can conjure. Generally, first films in a new franchise for Marvel tend to have good multipliers. Right now the best case scenario is that Doctor Strange can follow a Guardians of the Galaxy type trajectory and add on a long run against little competition (though the next six weeks have a couple potential monster hits) to the bigger-than-expected opening weekend. That kind of a run would leave Marvel laughing all the way to the bank. Again.