You know you're doing something right when they talk about your box office all weekend. Marvel is a Studio that constantly defies expectations, with fans and pundits alike tracking domestic grosses Thursday night through Monday morning. Their latest offering, the Phase 3 adventure Doctor Strange follows this while surpassing any and all early talk. Advanced tracking numbers indicated that Stephen Strange's origin outing would bring in a pretty penny, but by not this much!
The second in Marvel's third phase, which is building to the two-part Thanos epic Avengers: Infinity War, managed to lock onto $32.6 million on Friday, including Thursday night preview shows which earned $9.4 million according to Box Office Mojo. That's slightly better than what Thor: The Dark World did in this same frame way back in 2013, grossing $31.8 million on its opening day. It went onto make $85.7 million during its first weekend. Doctor Strange, previously though to top out with a low $70 cumulative weekend gross, now stands to pull in way over $80 million. And that is nothing short of a magical miracle seeing as how this is another Marvel character that isn't too familiar to general audiences.
Benedict Cumberbatch is being blamed for the higher than expected numbers, as he manages to fill a few extra seats that wouldn't normally be occupied. His popularity exceeds that of the Marvel fan base. But Doctor Strange isn't the only new movie having a great weekend, as audiences seem hungry for new entertainment.
Family movies have had a strong bowing at the box office this year, and that extends to 20th Century Fox's DreamWorks Animation release Trolls, which is based on the crazy-haired toy first made popular in the 60s and then again in the 80s. It nabbed a better than anticipated $12.3 million. And director Mel Gibson has his first hit in years, though it is modest. His hard R-rated war drama Hacksaw Ridge pulled in $5.22 million on Friday night playing in 2,886 theaters across America.
Trolls is expected to top out at $44 million for the weekend, with Hacksaw Ridge finishing its three-day total at $14+ million. All three of these new releases have earned an A CinemaScore, so these films are sitting well with paying audiences. We'll have early box office totals on Sunday. Can Doctor Strange pull ahead of projected tracking numbers today and Sunday to become one of the highest grossing Marvel origin movies to date? That's certainly possible. And there is no denying that the movie contains more than a little Marvel magic.