Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness dropped a harsh 67.3% in its second weekend, topping the domestic box office with $61 million for a new $291.9 million ten-day cume. The raw grosses are still big, but the drop isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement despite a near-total lack of competition. There was next-to-no newbie competition, all due respect to Firestarter, and the film still took the third-biggest drop ever for a Marvel Cinematic Universe flick (no, Morbius is not an MCU release) behind Black Widow and Spider-Man: No Way Home (which had its second Friday fall on Christmas Eve). Its 67.3% drop is on par with Man of Steel (-67.9% after a $128 million debut) and Fantastic Four (-68.2% after a $25.7 million debut). Yes, it joined the $100 million losers club, earning $126 million less between weekend one and weekend two.
Again, the Sam Raimi-directed and Michael Waldron-penned MCU sequel has still earned $292 million domestic and $688 million worldwide in 1.5 weeks of global theatrical play. It’s still got two weeks before Top Gun: Maverick flies into theaters over Memorial Day weekend, and I can’t imagine Downtown Abbey: A New Era (even if it opens on par with Addams Family 2’s $18 million launch last October) is going to do that much damage to Doctor Strange 2. If it plays like Captain America: Civil War, Eternals, Spider-Man 3, Black Widow, Wolverine and other somewhat frontloaded superhero flicks, it gets to just over/under $400 million domestic. However, if it plays like Batman v Superman or Hulk, it’ll and earns just 1.269 or 1.313x its ten-day total, it’ll end with between $370 million (just above The Batman’s $369 million cume) and $384 million.
Globally speaking, if it continues to pull a 42/58 domestic/overseas split, well, you can do the math too. We’re looking at a global finish between $872 million and $955 million. Again, it’s a $200 million sequel that is going to earn between 29% and 41% more than the original Doctor Strange’s $677 million global cume. Prior to the overperforming one-two punch of Black Panther ($700 million domestic and $1.346 billion in 2018) and Captain Marvel ($426 million/$1.128 billion in 2019), the biggest non-Iron Man MCU flick was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with $390 million/$869 million in 2017. Ditto Spider-Man: No Way Home, which had Christmas legs and played as a multigenerational nostalgia event for MCU fans, Spider-Man fans and specific fans of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man duology. This is *just* a Doctor Strange sequel.
We’re talking about objectively huge grosses, especially on a Covid curve and sans China, Russia and Ukraine overseas. Even if it ends up below $875 million, it’s still essentially a China release away from $1 billion global. However, either audiences really didn’t care for Doctor Strange 2’s subversive “all cameos must die” mentality, along with raw horror elements, its commitment to being a stand-alone picture and its willingness to turn Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff into a baddie, which is a terrifying thought in terms of how Disney might react, or the MCU is becoming closer to a “for fans only” property (think Harry Potter and Twilight) versus one that appeals to fans and general audiences. That’s fine if the ceiling remains high, but part of the MCU’s initial appeal was in drawing both the fans and the casual weekend date night crowd.
Maybe last weekend’s gross was inflated by folks expecting an Avengers-style event and now it’s down to people who just want to watch a Doctor Strange sequel. That would also explain why Captain America: Civil War became, save for Black Widow (which was concurrently available on Disney+ for an extra $30), Marvel Studios’ most frontloaded movie. Maybe the $179 million opening weekend crowd was compromised of folks who wanted a mythology episode, which they obviously got, while the rest was merely fans and general audiences who wanted to see a third Captain America movie. Either way, we’re talking about a movie that has grossed $292 million domestic and $688 million worldwide thus far. The drop, along with mixed buzz and a B+ Cinemascore, is good news for Top Gun 2, but it’s not remotely a long-term problem yet for the MCU.