Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness had a huge opening weekend at the box office, but how does its initial haul compare to the first Doctor Strange movie and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? The MCU’s box office has evolved quite a bit over time, particularly after the pandemic, but there’s still some fair comparisons to be made.
The MCU is the highest-grossing franchise in Hollywood history and currently accounts for nearly half of the top 10 highest-grossing movies of all time. Doctor Strange had a solid first outing in 2016, but its box office has more in common with the MCU’s earlier solo movies before $1 billion box office hauls became common, even for non-Avengers movies.
After his solo movie, Doctor Stephen Strange has become a much more popular MCU character, particularly thanks to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame where he not only flexed his powers in the biggest way yet, but he’s also directly responsible for the “Endgame” phrase after peering into millions of potential futures to find out how to undo Thanos’ snap. Strange also showed up in Spider-Man: No Way Home just a few months ago to set up the multiverse concept, which likely played a role in boosting Doctor Strange 2 attendance. Of course, the success of Wandavision should also be credited, as Scarlet Witch’s character arc continues directly into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. We only have numbers for the first week, and while they look good, a few things could change. Here’s what all the box office data for Doctor Strange 2 compares to the rest of the MCU.
Multiverse of Madness Beat Doctor Strange’s Opening Weekend Box Office In One Day
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness brought in an opening weekend haul of over $187 million, which is more than double the $85 million opening weekend of the first Doctor Strange. Even more impressive, Multiverse of Madness earned over $90 million on its first day (technically including both Thursday and Friday screenings), which already eclipses the entire opening weekend box office for the first movie.
The $187 million opening doesn’t just fare well against the first Doctor Strange, but it’s also good enough to rank as the MCU’s seventh-highest opening weekend box office of all time and the third-highest opening weekend haul for a solo movie behind Spider-Man: No Way Home and Black Panther. The MCU’s average opening weekend box office is $133 million, and clearly Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness exceeded that (and the original Doctor Strange did not).
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Has One Of The Worst First Weekend Drops in the MCU
Despite the huge opening weekend box office, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness saw an abnormally large fall-off after its first day in theaters. Friday’s $90 million haul dropped by 36.3 percent on Saturday, which is the MCU’s third highest Friday-Saturday drop of all time, ahead of two other pandemic-era movies, Spider-Man: No Way Home and Black Widow. The Saturday-Sunday drop of 32.7 percent ranked even higher, tied with the first Doctor Strange movie as the MCU’s biggest Sunday drop. For comparison, the MCU’s average Friday-Saturday drop is 15.33 percent and the average Saturday-Sunday drop is 22 percent.
The post-pandemic box office is still finding its groove, but one clear impact on movies released in 2021 and 2021 is they generally see higher drops early on compared to pre-pandemic movies, so this isn’t a huge concern for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness; however, considering its MCU-high Saturday-Sunday drop, its big opening weekend performance isn’t a guarantee of continued box office dominance.
Box office performance is dependant on a number of factors outside of the opening weekend numbers, but on average, MCU movies with higher drops tend to make more at the box office on average, although it’s not true in all cases. Weirdly, when it comes to the Friday-Saturday drops, bigger drops tend to have higher upside while lower drops correlate with lower box office. When it comes to the Saturday-Sunday, the lower drops tend to have a higher upside with higher Saturday-Sunday drops correlating with lower box office, particularly for the biggest drops, which could be a bad sign for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘ theatrical run, although these drops are far from absolute indicators.
Multiverse of Madness Opened on More Screens Than Almost Every MCU Movie
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is one of Marvel’s biggest releases yet with 4,534 screens, more than every MCU movie other than Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home. The release was so big it even spawned a viral Twitter post with an image showing 70 screenings at the Times Square AMC theater, bringing back criticisms Quentin Tarantino has leveled at Disney’s release strategies in the past.
Typically, MCU movies see a positive association between the number of screens and overall box office draw, so movies with a higher number of screens at launch typically have higher box office results, although it’s not clear if the box office success is a product of the higher screen counts driving more box office earnings or if the number of screens is more reactionary and simply reflects anticipated pre-release demand. Opening weekend Saturday and Sunday drops have an interesting relationship with the number of screens, with a loose correlation between fewer screens seeing lower Saturday drops, while Sunday saw a slightly reversed behavior, with fewer screens actually correlating to smaller Sunday drops; however, there’s another chicken or egg scenario here, since more screens associate to higher box office which means a higher potential drop earlier on, and big drops reduce the odds of the next drop being as big.
In many ways, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness shares many of the characteristics you’d expect from a typical MCU box office performance, but with a continuously changing post-COVID box office landscape, Doctor Strange 2 also exhibits a number of departures from traditional Marvel movie behaviors. With a below-average Rotten Tomatoes score and some big early drops, Doctor Strange could have some rough legs in front of it, but thanks to the monstrous $90 million Friday, it doesn’t have to have flawless legs to maintain its box office success.
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- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
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