Though this summer had a couple of massive box office hits like Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, and Suicide Squad, the high-profile disappointments of the season generated more attention as people tried to figure out why several would-be tentpoles failed to make an impact. The fall has essentially been more of the same, with Clint Eastwood’s biopic Sully the only release since the beginning of September to gross $100+ million domestically. Movies like Storks, Inferno, and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back have struggled to find an audience, and it’s safe to say that the marketplace is in desperate need of a hit.
Fortunately, the multiplex should get a boost in the near future. This week sees the North American release of Marvel’s Doctor Strange, a film that is already earning high figures internationally. Thanks to the positive reviews and stunning 3D visuals, the latest installment in the MCU is widely expected to be another big hit for the franchise, with the big question being how much it will make in its opening weekend. The first wave of projections indicated anywhere in the range of $55-75 million, but now that the movie is close to opening, the predictions have been slightly adjusted.
Per Deadline, the Doctor Strange box office estimates currently stand at $65 million for the low point, and anything mid-$70 million as the high. There’s a very strong chance Doctor Strange posts the tenth-highest opening weekend in the MCU, beating Thor‘s $65.7 million debut in 2011. That would be a great start for Marvel’s newest property, which is similar to Ant-Man in that the source material is relatively unknown amongst casual audiences. For comparison’s sake, Ant-Man opened with $57.2 million last summer, en route to a $180.2 million domestic total.
There’s no reason why Doctor Strange shouldn’t be able to meet or surpass these expectations. In addition to the great word-of-mouth, the film has virtually no competition as it opens. None of the holdovers pose much of a threat, and DreamWorks’ animated movie Trolls is targeting a different demographic. It’s been a while since audiences had something to collectively be excited about, and Marvel is releasing their latest endeavor at the perfect time. The box office has been in a dry spell for the better part of two months now, and a superhero story that demands to be seen on the biggest of screens is a recipe for great success.
The more interesting situation to watch unfold is how Doctor Strange will hold as the month goes on. In two weeks, Warner Bros. will premiere Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which is poised to be a big moneymaker in its own right. The good news for Marvel is that there’s a nice cushion between the two tentpoles, and both should have lucrative runs when it’s all said and done, successfully launching two new franchises. 2016 has been a record-breaking year for Disney, and their incredible year should continue as the fall movie season heats up.