DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS kicks off the summer of 2022 with a box office explosion of $185M over its first three days in theatres, exceeding most pre-release predictions, which pegged it at $160M -$180M. It is also a powerful result compared to the original DOCTOR STRANGE from November 2016.
This year’s Friday gross on its own beat the entire three-day $85M opening weekend of the original in 2016. Overall, this weekend’s result is more than twice the result of its earlier chapter. Disney set a post-pandemic record by releasing the picture ultra-wide to 4,543 theatres. It’s one more indication that moviegoing is rebounding and the much-needed effect of the Disney/Marvel blockbuster is alive and well.
Speaking of Disney, Hollywood’s biggest studio has been “missing in action” since it released ENCANTO last November 24th. Disney’s Twentieth Century Studios (the formerly independent Twentieth Century Fox) has only released one picture in 2022, DEATH ON THE NILE, on February 11th. It reeled in a small catch of $46M in total domestic gross. Disney’s Marvel Studios has sat idle since releasing ETERNALS on November 5th.
This inactivity has resulted in Disney accounting for a minuscule 1% share of the 2022 box office across all its studios. In 2019, the last full year before the pandemic year, the combined output of Disney, Fox, and Marvel made up 37% of the box office, and Disney had emerged as the leading studio of the decade. After the recent five-month hiatus from theatres, the total industry box office for 2022 sits at only 54% of the amount earned by this same time in 2019.
The industry needs Disney to produce hits using all its intellectual properties and deliver them to theatres to drive the box office. Interestingly, Disney’s stock price was down 40% from this point one year ago. Perhaps Disney needs an exhibition as much as an exhibition needs Disney. With scheduled upcoming releases of LIGHTYEAR (6/17), THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER (7/8), BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER (11/11), STRANGE WORLD (11/25), and AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER (12/16), there is still enough firepower left for Disney to rise to a 2022 market share in the range of the upper 20%, and this will go a long way towards helping exhibitors on their long road to recovery.
Holdover titles THE BAD GUYS and SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2 were able to finish second and third by earning $9.8M and $6.8M, respectively. The huge gap between first and second place is not uncommon, and in fact, DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS accounted for 84% of the entire weekend box office for all titles in release. Some weeks ago, we noted the A24’s strategic expansion of its EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE over its first three weeks in release.
Now in its 7th week, we see that the picture added another $3.3M this weekend and is still playing at over 1,500 theatres. It appears on track to wind up with a total box office gross of $50M. Kudos to A24 for proving that well-chosen, independent titles still can appeal to a broad audience of moviegoers and bring success to filmmakers and theatre owners. This weekend’s total gross for all films is estimated at $219.1M, which represents 110% of the same weekend in 2016.