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Don’t look now, but the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has some serious legs, thanks to Doctor Strange.
The fourteenth installment in the MCU debuted this weekend at #1 in the United States, raking in an estimated $84.9 million domestically. This ranks it as the 10th-highest opening in the franchise, just behind 2013’s Thor: The Dark World. It also makes the film the 3rd-highest debut outing for a Marvel film, beating out the first films in the Thor, Captain America, and Incredible Hulk series. Overall, only Iron Man had a stronger debut among Marvel’s solo lead characters.
With Doctor Strange serving as the de-facto first film in the fourth phase of the MCU, this is very good news for Marvel. Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange has drawn repeated comparisons to Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark, and for good reason. Strange is considered by many to be the heir apparent to Stark’s role as the arrogant playboy extraordinaire of the MCU. With Marvel apparently going all-in on magic and mysticism, Strange becomes the natural successor for Stark as the franchise transitions away from its more scientifically-grounded roots.
Does Doctor Strange Have Staying Power?
The real tale where the film’s box office success will be told in the next couple of weeks. Industry analysts expect the Doctor Strange to finish out its run between $200-215 million domestically. It may be that this estimate is too conservative. Iron Man‘s opening weekend accounted for roughly 31% of it’s total take. If Doctor Strange were to follow the same path, it’s final domestic box office would be closer to $275 million. Granted, Iron Man debuted in May, where Doctor Strange is a fall film. That said, strong reviews and even stronger word-of-mouth could see the Sorcerer Supreme benefit from a Thanksgiving weekend surge. Such a finish would land it firmly in Marvel’s top 10, overtaking the critically acclaimed Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($254 million).
Regardless of its final position, Marvel and Disney should certainly be satisfied with the initial take for Doctor Strange. Combined with it’s solid critical reception, the movie has proven to be an excellent launching point for the franchise. We will certainly be seeing more of Stephen Strange in the years to come, and that’s a good thing.