With $4.4 million domestic over the long weekend and $2.4 million overseas, Walt Disney and Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has now earned over $500 million outside of North America. That brings its domestic total to $374.7 million, its overseas cume to $502.9 million and its global total to $877.6 million. That means, for what it’s worth, Doctor Strange 2 has already earned $200 million more worldwide than Doctor Strange ($677 million in late 2016). And this is without a penny from Russia, Ukraine or China. As we’re concurrently seeing with Top Gun: Maverick ($160 million domestic and over $300 million worldwide over the long holiday weekend), China should no longer be seen as a must-have territory. I’ve been saying that since 2016, but I digress.
With a domestic total above The Batman ($370 million), the Sam Raimi-directed MCU sequel has become the year’s biggest domestic earner. Even if the likes of Jurassic World: Dominion and (shockingly enough) Top Gun: Maverick challenge it over the summer, it’s still a huge hit. It has now passed the $864 million global cume of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, making it the MCU’s third-biggest “no Iron Man or Spider-Man” release behind Black Panther ($1.346 billion) and Captain Marvel ($1.128 billion). Those films were arguably zeitgeist-specific releases, both in terms of being demographically-specific event films and in terms of their place alongside the final two Avengers movies. They both nabbed $105-$155 million from China, which for Doctor Strange 2 might have been the difference between $950 million and $1.1 billion.
Marvel has been here before, where the media decried Marvel fatigue or superhero fatigue after Avengers: Age of Ultron “only” earned $459 million domestic and $1.405 billion worldwide even as it earned more overseas than The Avengers ($623 million/$1.517 billion). Yes, Age of Ultron earned less domestically and worldwide than Jurassic World ($652 million/$1.671 billion) and less worldwide than Furious 7 ($353 million/$1.515 billion), but Marvel to its credit didn’t take the bait and didn’t panic. Even if some audiences were slightly turned off by the horror elements, the lack of status quo-shattering story beats and/or the “problematic” story turns (like letting Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlett Witch go full-baddie), it still worked as a Sam Raimi-specific picture. And even if the B+ Cinemascore means anything, the film is still going to earn around $950 million global.
These films need to be different from each other if they are to survive. General audiences don’t treat the cameos or interconnected universe seasoning as the main course, and there is no good result in tailoring these films to the perpetually online at the expense of the general moviegoers. We know what happened when Lucasfilm tried to make every new Star Wars movie look and feel like The Force Awakens, specifically when they tried to turn Solo into a more conventional Star Wars story and when they looked at The Last Jedi (rave reviews, an A from Cinemascore, $623 million domestic and $1.333 billion global) as anything but a winner. Marvel should, and presumably will, continue to make movies for the audiences who don’t view each film as a vessel for cameos, Easter Eggs and think pieces.