MONDAY AM UPDATE: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness came in ahead of Disney’s $185M weekend projection with $187M this morning after a $39M Sunday, -32%. Even though the number is under the low-$190Ms that rivals were seeing, realize that it’s truly about splitting hairs over round numbers. At the end of the day, it’s a fabulous start to summer, Disney’s best debut during the pandemic, and the 11th-best domestic debut of all time after Avengers: Age of Ultron’s $191.2M.
The movie is also the best opening for director Sam Raimi, beating the 2007 start of Spider-Man 3, which did $151M. Remember, Raimi started it all. It was his 2002 pic Spider-Man that was the first movie ever to open north of $100M in a given weekend (that pic seeing a 3-day of $114.8M). In addition, that film ushered in a new era of superhero movies and moved the start of the summer box office season from its former Memorial Day weekend frame to the first weekend of May.
SUNDAY AM UPDATE after late Saturday PM: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is coming in with a Disney-reported $57.5M Saturday, which is 36% off from the pic’s opening day of $90M. Many believe that the sequel’s opening is between $194M-$197M, according to industry estimates. But Disney is calling stateside at $185M as of this morning, or as Entelligence reports, that translates to 13.5M admissions.
Either way, that’s a great kickoff to summer and the best opening for a Disney movie during the pandemic, and the second-best during the Covid-19 era after Spider-Man: No Way Home‘s $260.1M.
While domestic will likely come in higher by tomorrow AM, global for Doctor Strange 2 at $450M reps the second-highest WW opening for any MPA movie during Covid-19, as well as the best year to date; all of this after Spider-Man: No Way Home‘s $600.5M global launch.
There’s been concern that Mother’s Day will drag the grosses down today. However, that’s already been accounted for, with an estimate around $44M per industry projections (-23%). Disney is forecasting $37.5M. The trajectory is roughly similar to Avengers: Age of Ultron, which saw a Friday to Saturday decline of 33% and a 3-day of $191.27M. One rival distribution boss says, “Mother’s Day is actually a great day for moviegoing.” Furthermore, as we previously mentioned, one of the selling points here with Doctor Strange 2 is in mama bear herself, Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff.
Now, back out those $36M Thursday previews from Doctor Strange 2‘s first day, and Friday was really $54M for the pic. That means Saturday was +6% over Friday, which is great and means the movie isn’t collapsing from that B+ CinemaScore.
Meanwhile, in case you were wondering, why, yes — the big chains and other exhibitors did upcharge on Doctor Strange 2 next to other films. Hey, after being movie theaters were closed for roughly a year between 2020-2021, they gotta eat. By and large, AMC is commanding the highest average ticket price for the Sam Raimi movie at $14.84, with Regal second at $13.77. Data is courtesy of EntTelligence.
Marvel wisely kicked off the marketing campaign for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with a trailer at the end of Spider-Man: No Way Home. If my memory serves me right, that’s the first trailer that Marvel actually dropped for a subsequent MCU title in a pic’s end credits. That was a brilliant stroke in regards to reach, as everyone saw that Sony/Marvel title, with Disney releasing the trailer online a few days after No Way Home‘s $260.1M second-best-ever domestic opening.
The trailer and teasers were further trumpeted during Super Bowl LVI Pre-Kick, Olympics, NCAA Final Four Pre-Sale Messaging, and more. There were digital takeovers on Amazon Fire TV, YouTube CTV Masthead, Roku, Snapchat First Commercial, ESPN FrontPage, Fandango, Twitter Spotlight Trend, Twitch First Impression, Reddit Trending, and more. There was also placement in high-profile programming, including the NBA Playoffs, late night, SNL, American Idol, This Is Us, The Walking Dead, American Song Contest, The Good Doctor, Univision Novelas. Disney made a special media focus on April 28, which was National Superhero Day and included spots during the NBA Playoffs and NBA Draft.
RelishMix notes that coming off of the Super Bowl on Feb. 13, the Doctor Strange 2 trailer grabbed the most viewership online in the 24 hours after the game, with 93.1M social views besting Jurassic World Dominion (86.8M views) and upcoming Prime Video series Lord of the Rings (80.3M views).
Promo partners for Doctor strange included Procter & Gamble/Tide, who launched “Cloak vs. Tuna Melt,” in which Marvel Partnerships developed and produced a co-branded short-form spot where Wong accidentally dirties the Cloak with a tuna sandwich, resulting in an even dirtier NYC chase to get the Cloak into the wash.
Another promo partner was G Fuel, which is a top drink among gamers, Xbox (which included custom cobranded console kits; Xbox’s 4thMarvel partnership) and Jaeger-Le Coultre. International partnerships included Mori Building Co., Japan’s leading urban landscape developer, leveraging its existing pop-culture fan events by turning its café and menu into a cobranded interactive photo-op experience, as well as Cadillac, Maybank, and Shell in APAC; Xiaomi and T-Mobile in EMEA; and Club Premier (Mexico) and Virgin Plus (Canada).
Digital activations for Doctor Strange 2 featured Xochitl Gomez taking over the @Instagram account (480M followers). It should also be noted that Hispanic and Latino audiences are overindexing for this Marvel title with a 28% turnout versus the Marvel average of 22%.
Other digital promos included a custom Instagram AR lens that utilized the shattered glass motif, Instagram stickers, and a Messenger AR Group Effects which also used the shattered glass motif. There was a Twitter Spotlight with exclusive branded “like” custom animations utilizing the recognizable Doctor Strange portal; six custom emojis and a Twitter Q&A with Cumberbatch and Olsen on @twittermovies.
Also, according to RelishMix, most of the cast for the sequel was non-social, which is unusual for a Marvel movie, i.e. Cumberbatch, Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams. Benedict Wong does have 692K followers on Instagram, and Cumberbatch has a super fan page with 2M followers with posts from premieres, marketing materials and behind-the-scenes.
Imax screens at a 410 count amped up $18M for Doctor Strange 2, a $44K theater average and the biggest Imax U.S./Canada opening ever in May, and the sixth highest Imax Marvel stateside opening ever. Overall, all premium formats are contributing 36% of Doctor Strange 2‘s box office.
“Summer blockbuster season is off to a roaring start with Doctor Strange— an excellent sign for the phenomenal slate ahead representing some of the most bankable franchises, filmmakers, and stars in the world,” said Rich Gelfond, CEO of IMAX in a statement. “From our Filmed for IMAX camera program to IMAX Enhanced on Disney+, IMAX and Disney have built a strong partnership that will only grow this year with amazing releases like Lightyear, Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and Avatar: The Way of Water to come.”
Another bragging point here about Doctor Strange 2, especially with the exclusive drop of the Avatar 2 trailer in its theaters this week, is that 3D accounted for 9% of the pic’s opening weekend, an encouraging number not far from the pre-pandemic shares of Captain Marvel – 11%, Ant-Man & The Wasp – 10% and Spider-Man: Far From Home – 9%.
Disney reported demos show a general audience of 88%, with parents and kids at a combined 12% turnout. There’s been a lot of hay made about the PG-13 rating and how scary Doctor Strange 2 is. However, that turnout by families is one point shy of the ratio of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which was 13%. Yeah, if you have a 5- or 6-year-old, this is a scary movie. But no one is getting their hearts pulled out of their chests like in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Furthermore, kids under 12 gave the movie 5 stars, while their parents awarded it with 4 1/2 stars. Umm, so, not so scary after all. Sequel is still being driven by 62% guys and 57% 18-34.
Total overall ticket sales for the weekend per ComScore are at $219.1M, +10% vs. the same first weekend of May in 2019. Total running domestic B.O. for Jan. 1-May 8 is $2.19 billion, +361% over the same frame last year.
Again, Doctor Strange 2 pulled in the second biggest audience over a pic’s opening weekend during the pandemic per EntTelligence. Check out the chart below:
1.) Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Dis) 4,534 theaters, Fri $90M/Sat $57.5M/Sun $37.5M, 3-day $185M/Wk 1
Industry projections for the weekend are between $194M-$197M for the Marvel sequel. TBD tomorrow AM.
2.) The Bad Guys (Uni) 3,839 (-203) Theaters, Fri $2.3M (-38%), Sat $4.1M, Sun $3.3M, 3-day $9.77M (-40%)/Total $57.5M/Wk 3
3.)Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Par) 3,358 (-443) theaters, Fri $1.5M (-41%), Sat $2.74M, Sun $1.96M, 3-day $6.2M (-46%)/Total $169.9M/Wk 5
4.) Fantastic Beasts…Dumbledore (WB), 3,051 (-911) theaters, Fri $1.045M (-51%), Sat $1.7M, Sun $1.2M, 3-day $3.95M (-52%)/Total $86M/Wk 4
5.) Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) 1,542 (-671) theaters, Fri $951K (-39%), Sat $1.35M, Sun $1M, 3-day $3.3M (-40%)/Total $41.56M/Wk 7
6.) The Northman (Foc) 2,413 (-871) theaters, Fri $830K (-54%), Sat $1.1M, Sun $800K, 3-day $2.77M (-56%)/Total $28M/Wk 3
7.) The Lost City (Par) 1,897 (-698) theaters Fri. $635K, Sat $1M, Sun$865K, 3-day $2.5M (-35%)/Total $94.38M/ Wk 7
This movie is heading toward $100M; underscoring that middle budget movies do work at the box office, and that women during the pandemic indeed want to go back to the cinema.
8.) Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (LG) 1,331 (-1,705) theaters, Fri $437K, Sat $618K, Sun $470K, 3-day $1.525M (-61%)/Total $16.3M/Wk 3
9.) Memory (Open Road) 2,433 (-122) theaters, Fri $370K (-66%), Sat $510K, Sun $340K, 3-day $1.22M (-60%)/Total/ $5.49MWk 2
10.) Father Stu (Sony) 1,265 (-1,211) theaters, Fri $210K, Sat $285K, Sun $305K, 3-day $800K (-64%), Total $19.2M/Wk 4
SATURDAY AM: Business got better for Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness last night, sending its ticket sales from $85M, where we saw it yesterday midday, to $90M (that includes previews). All of this spells for a $198.8M-$200M opening weekend, according to industry estimates, which would be one of the ten best stateside debuts of all-time, and easily Disney’s best during the pandemic.
Overseas is at $139.3M to date, and global at $229.3M, which means the pic will easily beat its WW $300M opening projection.
Doctor Strange 2‘s domestic opening day reps the seventh-biggest first day in industry history, and gives the Marvel Cinematic Universe five of the top ten opening days ever.
Disney has pumped up the global expansion of its streaming service, Disney+, and if they’re wondering where consumers want to see Marvel movies, well, it’s on the big screen, not at home. Duh.
Some are calling Doctor Strange 2 at $200M. Disney is conservatively seeing $170M-$185M. What’s giving pause to the industry outlook is the fact that this sequel isn’t as widely beloved as other titles in the MCU, which typically get “A” grades. That buzz might curb business a little. We’ll see tonight. Doctor Strange 2 gets a B+ CinemaScore, among a handful of “B” movies in the MCU, including Eternals (B), Thor (B+) and Hulk (B-). Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak is still 4 stars and 82%, and a 69% definite recommend. On the other hand, there’s nothing else on the marquee like Doctor Strange 2.
Still, with grades like that for Doctor Strange 2, ticket sales look to be besting overall critical and audience reception, and credit is due to the Disney marketing machine for pulling that off. It’s an easier feat with an established character like Doctor Strange, who has starred in the Avengers movies, versus a group of fresh face superheroes like the Eternals. Disney/Mavel created a want-to-see in how Doctor Strange 2 was sold as a sequel to WandaVision (which was smart for Marvel boss Kevin Feige to tease very early on during press tours; it helps when Marvel doesn’t keep everything so ‘secret-secret’ in their promotions), as well as Spider-Man: No Way Home. There was also an assumption out there by fans that this sequel would wink at Loki as well. Whether that was true (or not), it still spurred curiosity.
“MCU super fans are pulling time code from trailers and deep diving for breadcrumbs — with mentions from Logan, Wolverine, and back over to Spider-Man,” observes RelishMix about the pre-weekend buzz for the film, which has fans obsessing over the character cameos.
If Wall Street was betting on the extinction of exhibition during the pandemic, consider those forecasts dead wrong, even if Doctor Strange 2 settles near $180M. This return to Marvel by filmmaker Sam Raimi is propelling total ticket sales this weekend to an estimated $235M, which is +18% over the first weekend of May 2019, pre-pandemic. Remember, that was the second weekend of Avengers: Endgame, which amazingly pulled in $147.3M, the second-best second weekend of all-time at the domestic box office. Some media cynics will say that audiences only want to see Marvel movies. I think that will be proven untrue when a near 60-year-old movie star’s sequel, Top Gun Maverick, comes out on Memorial Day weekend.
Box office numbers and entertainment data firm EntTelligence says since Thursday, Doctor Strange 2 has pulled in 89% of the moviegoing attendance, not far from the first day of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which pulled in 91% of all moviegoers. That’s roughly nine out of ten moviegoers who went to see the latest MCU title. In regards to how people are seeing Doctor Strange 2: 20% went before 4PM, 26% went between 4PM-7PM, 29% went during the prime time of 7PM-9PM, while 25% went after 9PM. In just two days, Exhibition has provided an average of 39 shows per location.
Other diagnostics on the Doctor: Guys are driving business at 62% per PostTrak, with 57% over 25, with 61% between 18-34 years old. Diversity demos are 35% Caucasian, 30% Hispanic and Latino, 18% Black, 10% Asian, and 8% other. The Benedict Cumberbatch-Elizabeth Olsen movie played best in the big markets on the coasts, where all of its top ten runs were. Still, business is great in all of the 50 states. On Friday, five theaters closed over $200K, eight did north of $150K, and 75 multiplexes for the pic were over $100K. IMAX, PLF screens and 3D repped close to 40% of Doctor Strange 2‘s first day business.
Group moviegoing went to Doctor Strange, with 17% seeing it with one friend, 17% going with two to four friends, 17% with a family member, and 16% with a spouse or partner. Some 37% bought their tickets on the day of, versus 27% more than a week ago, and 21% within the last week.
Some 51% came because Doctor Strange 2 was an MCU title, 28% came because of the cast, while another 28% attended with someone who wanted to see it. Some 25% came for Cumberbatch, while 18% came because of Olsen.
Most influential forms of advertising for Doctor Strange 2 were YouTube trailers (36%), in-theater trailers (26%), Instagram trailers (22%), online trailers (22%), and TV spots (22%).
The sequel’s reach across all social media platforms stood near 785M, 18% above Superhero norms, with solid YouTube engagement at 461.7M views on a stack of 18 videos, and 58.9M views on Facebook. TikTok views on official channels are at 8.2M, while Cumberbatch related fan posts were at 36.1M views, most of which were Doctor Strange 2 related. Notably, the campaign has a hard push on Twitter views for the film at 49.6M views on trailer clips. For comparison, recent box office sensation Spider-Man: No Way Home, which opened at $260M, had exceptionally well-clocking 1.2B SMU social reach. The historical data on Doctor Strange was at 313M back in 2016, driven by 151.3M YouTube views.
In the perfect world of cross-promotions, SNL appearance+blockbuster weekend, Cumberbatch is hosting the late night show tonight:
If you haven’t listened to Deadline’s Hero Nation podcast already, clock below. Doctor Strange 2 scribe and Loki creator Michael Waldron said that for a minute in the development of the Steven Strange part 2, the pic was positioned to go before No Way Home.
“When the release dates got swapped, that’s when it got tricky,” Waldron told Dominic Patten and me.
“I spent the bulk of this movie thinking we’d be coming out before No Way Home, and that we were going to be blowing the lid on the multiverse. When that shift in release dates happened, it was like the audience is going to be acclimated,” says the Emmy-winning scribe of Rick and Morty. “Dr. Strange is going to have had experience with the multiverse, and that has a knock-down effect on everything.”
Listen below to Hero Nation:
1.) Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Dis) 4,534 theaters, Fri $90M/3-day $185M-$200M/Wk 1
2.) The Bad Guys (Uni) 3,839 (-203) Theaters, Fri $2.3M (-38%), 3-day $10.36M (-36%)/Total $58.1M/Wk 3
Great hold here by the DreamWorks Animation pic against Doctor Strange 2. Working to its advantage is the fact that the Marvel sequel is too scary for little kids.
3.)Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Par) 3,358 (-443) theaters, Fri $1.5M (-41%), 3-day $6.6M (-43%)/Total $170.3M/Wk 5
4.) Fantastic Beasts…Dumbledore (WB), 3,051 (-911) theaters, Fri $1.03M (-52%), 3-day $4M (-51%)/Total $86.1M/Wk 4
5.) Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) 1,542 (-671) theaters, Fri $951K (-39%), 3-day $3.6M (-34%)/Total $41.8M/Wk 7
As we mentioned, the Daniels pic is poised to become A24’s highest grossing pic, besting Uncut Gems’ $50M take. Right now, it’s the NY-based studio’s fourth best after Uncut Gems, Lady Bird ($49M), and Hereditary ($44M).
6.) The Northman (Foc) 2,413 (-871) theaters, Fri $820K (-55%), 3-day $2.9M (-54%)/Total $28.1M/Wk 3
7.) The Lost City (Par) 1,897 (-698) theaters Fri. $630K (-41%), 3-day $2.485M (-35%)/Total $94.3M/ Wk 7
8.) Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (LG) 1,331 (-1,705) theaters, Fri $441K (-60%)/, 3-day $1.56M (-60%)/Total $16.3M/Wk 3
Industry estimates figure this $30M Nicolas Cage parody ends its domestic run at $20M.
9.) Memory (Open Road) 2,433 (-122) theaters, Fri $370K (-66%), , 3-day $1.35M (-56%)/Total/ $5.6MWk 2
10.) Father Stu (Sony) 1,265 (-1,211) theaters, Fri $218,6K (-64%), 3-day $870K (-60%), Total $19.2M/Wk 4
FRIDAY MIDDAY: Sam Raimi’s return to Marvel, Disney’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, is eyeing an $85M+ Friday at 4,534 theaters according to industry estimates. The number includes last night’s $36M in previews.
Among opening days, that’s poised to be the 8th largest of all-time stateside, after Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker which did $89.6M and ahead of Avengers: Age of Ultron which did $84.4M. Doctor Strange 2 is also the biggest opening day for Disney since 2019’s Skywalker, their last big blockbuster before the pandemic set in.
Weekend projections continue to be wild. Many believe Doctor Strange 2 has a shot at $190M-$200M, but if frontloaded ticket sales set in, then we could be looking more at a $180M 3-day. Mother’s Day is on Sunday and despite Wanda Maximoff being a fierce mama bear, Doctor Strange 2 isn’t exactly a movie you’d take your mom to.
Last night’s crowd for the Benedict Cumberbatch-Elizabeth Olsen-Rachel McAdams movie was 4 stars on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak with an 81% positive, and the 18-34 crowd at 63%. Men over 25 repped 38% (85% grade), guys under 25 were 24% (79% grade), women over 25 were 23% (77%) while females under 25 repped 16% (81% grade). So far, a 71% definite recommend for the sequel. Diversity demos were 34% Caucasian, 30% Hispanic and Latino, 18% Black and 11% Asian.
In 2nd place for the weekend is Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys with $2.5M today at 3,838 locations, -33% from a week ago, for a third weekend of $11.1M, -32% and a running total of $58.9M.
Third goes to Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in weekend 5 at 3,358 venues, a $1.6M Friday, -37%, and $7M+ weekend for a running total just under $171M.
Fourth goes to Warner Bros.’ Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore at 3,051 sites, with a $1M Friday, and $4M+ weekend with an EOD Sunday of $86M.
A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once at 2,000 locations in its 7th Friday will get $900K in fifth place, a $3M+ 3-day and a running total of $40.9M.
FRIDAY AM: Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness racked up $36 million from previews that began at 3 p.m. Thursday. That’s the second-best preview during the pandemic after Spider-Man: No Way Home‘s $50M back in December. Overall, it’s the eighth-largest preview performance ever, ranking behind Avengers: Infinity War‘s $39M in 2018.
The Sam Raimi-directed movie debuts in 4,534 theaters, making it the seventh-widest opening footprint ever. As is typical with any Marvel movie, the question is how frontloaded Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is. Industry expectations are at least $160M. Any way you cut it, that’s the biggest opening for Disney during the pandemic, besting Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ($75.3M), and for exhibition it’s a great sign that the summer box office is off to a fantastic start.
Critics aren’t as wowed by this sequel as they were with the first one, with 77% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes compared with 89% Certified fresh on the 2016 edition. Doctor Strange 2 is also significantly below the last Marvel movie, Spider-Man: No Way Home, which garnered 93% certified fresh. That said, 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron looks like a good comp here. That movie was 76% certified fresh with critics, and made $27.6M in previews (granted, those started at 7 p.m.). Those previews repped 33% of Ultron‘s first-day box office of $84.4M, which turned into a $191.2M opening. That’s one possible way Doctor Strange 2 could weave his magic.
Doctor Strange 2 also notched the fifth-highest Thursday night preview ever for Imax with $4.2M in ticket sales from 410 auditoriums.
On Tuesday, Disney had measured $60M in ticket presales for Doctor Strange 2, behind No Way Home‘s $120M.
Overseas for Doctor Strange 2 through the first two days stands at $85.7M, which is 12% behind No Way Home, +172% ahead of Doctor Strange and +197% ahead of The Batman on a like-for-like basis. Like Batman, Doctor Strange 2 doesn’t have China our Russia in its offshore bookings.
Among regular titles in release, Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Bad Guys ends its second week with $19.5M and a running total of $47.8M; on Thursday it did an estimated $555K. A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once did $494K yesterday, off 30%, sending its total through six weeks to $38.2M. Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2 grossed $410K in its fourth Thursday, putting its running total at $163.7M. Focus Features’ second Thursday for The Northman was $400K, sending its total to $25.2M. Warner Bros’ Fantastic Beasts 3 was fifth yesterday with an estimated $380K, -38%, and a $82M running cume through three weeks.