Droves of Marvel superfans have powered DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS to a box office of more than $350M in North America and nearly $850M worldwide. Many have delighted in the appearance in DOCTOR STRANGE of Marvel Cinema Universe characters already introduced in the previous 28 MCU movies or three spin-off series showing on Disney+. But what about casual moviegoers who may not have invested the time necessary to follow all the plot points and characters?
The Wall Street Journal surveyed a focus group of moviegoers who saw DOCTOR STRANGE 2 to understand how prior knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe impacted their enjoyment of the current film. Not surprisingly, those who were fully conversant with prior films and series delighted in the current offering. However, some of those who were less invested in the MCU reported that they felt out of the loop at times, and that they did not want to put in the “work” of watching prior movies to understand all the characters and plot twists. One user complained that he was “not interested in seeing the next thing they were setting me up for.”
After a solid opening, the grosses for DOCTOR STRANGE 2 dropped dramatically in following weeks. This dynamic should be a point of concern at Disney, since it could limit the ceiling for future Marvel releases.