Box Office: Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange 2’ Passes $500 Million Worldwide

Disney is reported this morning that that Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness earned $12.6 million on Tuesday, a drop of 5% from its $13.3 million Monday gross. Yes, I’m slightly surprised that it didn’t rise a bit on “cheap Ticket Tuesday,” but it also had a halfway decent hold (-65% from Sunday) on its first weekday. Its $213.6 million five-day gross is 1.14x its $187 million opening weekend, which is essentially tied with Captain America: Civil War (1.15 x $179.2 million = $206.2 million).

Granted, Captain America 3 remains Marvel’s least leggy non-Covid era flick, earning “just” $408 million from a $179 million debut in May of 2016. To this day, I can only guess as to why that occurred. Was it the downer ending that didn’t feel enough like escapism during the presidential election? Did it play enough like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that audiences felt they had already seen it “twice?” After all, it had positive reviews and an A from Cinemascore.

I will only once again note that the media declared Avengers: Age of Ultron to be a blow to Marvel’s supremacy after the film was tagged as problematic due to controversial elements (such as Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow remarking that she felt like a monster after being sterilized by her KG-used-to-be assassin overlords) and a foot-in-mouth press tour (during which Jeremy Renner jokingly called Black Widow a whore). The punditry declared the mere $191 million domestic debut (compared to $207 million for The Avengers) as an example of “superhero fatigue” even as it earned $459 million domestic and $1.405 billion global.

One year later, Civil War was hailed as an artistic comeback/course correction even while audiences merely greeted it as “another solid MCU movie.” It earned $409 million domestic and $1.155 billion worldwide. From February to August of 2016, the only movies that broke big were Marvel/DC superhero movies (Suicide Squad, Deadpool, Civil War) and talking animal toons (Zootopia, Secret Life of Pets, Finding Dory). Even if the Sam Raimi-directed and Michael Waldron-penned MCU sequel is only as leggy as Civil War or Black Widow ($183 million/$80 million plus whatever it earned on Disney+ Premiere Access), it’ll still gross over/under $427 million, or essentially tied with Captain Marvel ($426 million in 2019) and (sans inflation) right in between Civil War and Age of Ultron.

That would be an 83% jump from Doctor Strange ($232 million in 2016), which is a jump on par with John Wick: Chapter 2 (from $44 million to $92 million) in terms of “just another sequel with this character” franchise flicks. Unlike Civil War (+55% from Winter Soldier) and Spider-Man: No Way Home (from $390 million for Far from Home to $804 million), Doctor Strange 2 isn’t a glorified Avengers sequel or a multigenerational nostalgia event. It’s just another Stephen Strange flick. Yes, WandaVision helped, but I’d imagine that almost every single person who watched the Disney+ show also sees almost every MCU movie in theaters anyway.

The film rose 2.5% overseas on Tuesday, earning $16.1 million for a $294.2 million foreign cume as it passes $300 million outside of North America by the end of this sentence. That gives the Benedict Cumberbatch/Elizabeth Olsen/Xochitl Gomez sci-fi fantasy a new global cume of $507.8 million. Yes, it’s past Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ($435 million) worldwide and will be past that Simi Liu/Tony Leung/Awkwafina martial arts actioner’s $225 million domestic cume tomorrow (and Doctor Strange’s $232 million domestic cume on Friday).

That also puts the film past Venom: Let There Be Carnage ($505 million, including $214 million domestic) to be the fifth biggest Hollywood release of the Covid era behind only F9 ($721 million), The Batman ($760 million), No Time to Die ($774 million) and Spider-Man: No Way Home ($1.89 billion). It should be past $600 million worldwide on Friday and $700 million on Sunday. It’ll pass the $677 million global cume of Doctor Strange over the weekend as well.

It is guaranteed to surpass the worst-case scenario result, whereby it jumps as much as Iron Man 2 (+5 from Iron Man’s $585 million gross) and, sans $125 million from China, only grosses around $600 million global. A jump on par with Ant-Man and the Wasp ($519 million to $620 million), again sans $125 million from China, would still get Doctor Strange 2 to $683 million. Once it passes $762 million, it’ll have jumped higher than did Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($869 million) from Guardians of the Galaxy ($773 million).

The Winter Soldier earned a $259 million domestic and $714 million in 2014, compared to The First Avenger’s $176 million/$371 million gross in 2011. That level jump, even removing $125 million from China, would give Doctor Strange 2 $1.177 billion worldwide. That may be the best-case-scenario endgame for this “just a Doctor Strange sequel,” although I’m thinking it ends up between $1.015 billion and $1.065 billion. Yes, it’s still a hit at $999.999 million.

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