Strange Days Indeed at the Box Office
By John Hamann
November 6, 2016
Marvel and Disney must be thrilled with this result, especially after a huge overseas debut last weekend, which came in at $87.7 million and now sits at a massive $240 million. Doctor Strange cost Marvel and Disney $165 million to make, and with that hefty marketing budget, it will need at least $450-500 million in order to see a profit. That amount will be no problem - Doctor Strange should still be in the top 12 come Christmas day, and will do quite well over the lead-up to the holiday.
Marvel was not only successful at the box office - it's also a hit with critics and audiences. Doctor Strange is a wonderful 90% fresh, with 197 positive reviews out of a possible 218 at the time of this writing. Marvel's reviews have always been excellent, but this is in the same ballpark as Captain America: Civil War (90% fresh), Guardians of the Galaxy (91% fresh), and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (89%). The Cinemascore came in at an A, and that only spells legs, legs, legs. Doctor Strange should be a top four film come Thanksgiving, and there appears to be no reason this can't earn $250 million at the domestic box office. Thor: The Dark World may have had a similar opening weekend and "only" earned $206 million at the North American box office, but that one was 66% fresh, and the Cinemascore was an A- (but I think we all know the difference between Thor: The Dark World and something like Captain America: Civil War).
The overseas gross is going to be massive. Star Benedict Cumberbatch will keep overseas awareness high, as he and Keira Knightley took The Imitation Game to $142 million overseas, while it was unable to crack the $100 million mark in North America. The Star Trek franchise doubled its overseas gross when comparing the rebooted Star Trek with Star Trek Into Darkness, and Cumberbatch would be a big reason for the lift from $128 million overseas with the original, to $238 million for the sequel. Fellow Brit Tilda Swinton is no slouch either, and neither is Canadian Rachel McAdams. Mads Mikkelsen was a casting coup as well, as his film The Hunt earned only in the tens of thousands stateside but in the millions overseas.
Simply put, Marvel earns another home run with Doctor Strange, and Disney continues a white hot 2016, which has included Finding Dory ($1 billion plus worldwide), Captain America: Civil War ($1.1 billion worldwide), Jungle Book (just shy of $1 billion worldwide) and Zootopia ($1 billion worldwide). Doctor Strange likely won't hit those heights, but who's going to complain about three-quarters of a billion for this one when they have another Star Wars film coming up.
Our number two film is no slouch, either, as Trolls opens decently for DreamWorks Animation and Fox. Trolls got started with just short of a million on Thursday night, but considering that this one is playing to the tots, the Thursday preview number was in line with expectations. The Friday was much bigger at an all-inclusive $12.3 million, which means the Thursday take was less than 10% of the Friday, whereas Doctor Strange's was almost 30%. Trolls was able to turn its "true Friday" into a weekend take of $45.6 million, a not bad score when considering it played next to Doctor Strange. That is similar to the tally that The Peanuts Movie earned over the same weekend in 2015, when Spectre led with $70 million, and The Peanuts Movie finished second with $44 million. The Peanuts Movie went on to earn $130 million stateside and $250 million worldwide, not quite enough against its $100 million budget.