The Saturday morning projections have held strong for Doctor Strange, and even seen an uptick. The current numbers are $85 million for the first three days of release. That tally isn’t final and official (that will come sometime in the afternoon or evening), but it’s unlikely that things will change much.
Furthermore, the international numbers are also in and the take offshore came in at $118.7 million, bringing the two week total to $240.4 million. In particular, China brought in a solid $44.4 million, which is an improvement over both Ant-man and Guardians of the Galaxy. While Benedict Cumberbatch is a star throughout the western world, his popularity in China is particularly strong.
So what does all this mean? Where does Doctor Strange fit within the larger scope of the MCU? The best strategy to look for answers is to compare the film with other “original IP” films (the clunky term for first films starring a particular character as a headliner). So the important comps here are Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ant-Man. (I’m leaving out Avengers because it really is a different dynamic as it serves as a sort of sequel to all the Phase 1 solo movies.) Conveniently, the good folks over at Box Office Mojo have already done most of that work, though they did not consider Guardians in their list. When it comes to opening weekends, Doctor Strange pulls a solid third, behind Guardians and Iron Man. It outpaces the other Phase 1 original IP movies and Ant-Man by 30-50%.
The opening essentially guarantees a sequel, though few doubted that reality before this weekend. Ant-Man was considered a bit of a surprise when it managed to pull in $500 million overall. If Doctor Strange manages a 2.4 or so domestic multiplier (which is similar to Iron Man‘s) and then adds Ant-Man like international take (it’s running ahead in most territories) then it’ll end with $530 million global. We have good reason to believe that it will prove a bit leggier than that and could get into the $600 million.
Big picture, Doctor Strange is running like a Marvel sequel more than a franchise starter. It’s take looks much more like Thor: The Dark World than Thor. It isn’t the lightning in a bolt success of Guardians, but expecting as much is unfair. That was a great movie which hit theaters at the beginning of a two-month drought of decent movies. The optimistic, big target is now if it can be the all time top earning solo character first film. Currently, that champion is Iron Man at $585 million globally. But that sort of success could happen if things fall right. Just how the film does once the Thanksgiving blockbuster Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them brings competition is a real question.
Have you seen Doctor Strange? What did you think? Do you think it will manage to unseat Tony Stark as the biggest solo premiere in the MCU? Share your thoughts below in the comments.