Disney and Marvel’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” has closed out its second weekend at the box-office domestically with $61 million, a drop of 67%.
In macro numbers, the film is doing great. It currently sits at $688 million worldwide, already surpassing the total gross of its predecessor. It is also well on track for a global haul of around $1 billion, a stellar number considering it’s not getting the universal positive buzz that “Spider-Man: No Way Home” scored back in December.
But a closer examination of the overall box-office of all films this weekend has raised some concerns. That drop-off is at the high end for comic book blockbusters with most Marvel films falling in the high 50% range in their second weekends.
More worryingly though, ‘Strange’ accounted for two-thirds of all grosses at the box-office – with the rest of the entire cinematic landscape pulling in a combined total of $31 million.
That includes the one new wide release “Firestarter” which flamed out, the new take on the Stephen King novel opening in fourth place with $3.8 million. Bad reviews didn’t do the Zac Efron-led film any favors, nor did a simultaneous Peacock release. However, the success of “Halloween Kills” with the same strategy last year shows Peacock’s impact is negligible.
That meant that the U.S. domestic box-office as a whole pulled in a total of $92 million this weekend. Apart from the last two years due to COVID, no May weekend until now has grossed under $100 million since 2007.
Recently there’s been quite a few theatrical-only success stories with films like “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “The Batman,” and “Uncharted” whilst the likes of “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” are still going strong.
Thus using the pandemic as a qualifier to explain soft box-office rings a bit hollow as audiences in 2022 have proven they will come out in force when they want to. Despite the success of those aforementioned films and the ‘Strange’ sequel, the overall domestic box-office in 2022 is reportedly still less than 60% of the levels seen at the same time of year in 2019.
You can’t put the blame on films being rushed to PVOD either. “The Bad Guys,” “The Lost City” and “The Northman” all premiered on PVOD formats this past week, and all three held well at the box-office – dropping 28%, 37% and 41% respectively. In fact “Northman” had its smallest drop to date despite being available in homes.
Thus discussion has arisen over the lack of cinema releases, especially wide releases, as studio line-ups are rather thin this year. Eyes turn toward “Downton Abbey: A New Era” later this coming week and more importantly “Top Gun: Maverick” the week after to hopefully give cinema’s steam engine some fire as it seems every big new release will count this Summer if theatrical is to have a future beyond occasional tentpoles.