Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Made A Magical $36 Million In Thursday Previews

It is almost unavoidable for anyone who pays attention to movies even a little bit, but "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is in theaters as of today. Perhaps not at all surprisingly, the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is expected to make a lot of money this weekend, and it's already off to an incredibly strong start. So much so that we're now looking at one of the biggest opening weekends of the pandemic era at the box office. 

As reported The Numbers, director Sam Raimi's "Doctor Strange" sequel took in $36 million in Thursday preview screenings. That represents the eighth-best preview number ever, just ahead of "The Dark Knight Rises" ($30.6 million) and behind "Avengers: Infinity War" ($39 million). Given that "The Dark Knight Rises opened to $160 million and "Infinity War" opened with $257 million, the opening weekend number is going to be huge no matter what. Industry estimates heading into the weekend had it pegged between $160 and $180 million. It now figures to come in at the top-end of those projections, if not closer to $200 million.

The biggest opening weekend (by far) at the box office since the pandemic began was "Spider-Man: No Way Home," which took in a whopping $260 million against $50 million worth of previews. No doubt, Benedict Cumberbatch's prominent role as Doctor Strange in that movie is going to help bolster ticket sales for his new solo adventure this weekend. "The Batman" currently sits in the number two spot with $134 million. "Multiverse of Madness" figures to blow by that number easily.

Marvel remains bulletproof (for now)

The big takeaway in the early going is that Marvel remains a bulletproof brand in the entertainment landscape. It is the one thing that the industry can count on when all else seems to fail. Even "Eternals," by far the worst-reviewed MCU movie ever, managed to cross $400 million at the box office last year. Not to mention that "Morbius" topped the box office in its opening weekend against scathing reviews, even if it did fade incredibly fast. Even at its worst, Marvel is bankable. At its biggest? Well, we'll have more to say about that come Monday morning, no doubt. Looking forward, one can't help but wonder at what point the cracks in the armor might begin to show for Marvel Studios. This dynasty can't last forever. Then again, maybe it can. Who knows? For now, Disney and the house that Kevin Feige built continue to ride very high.

Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Mordo), Xochitl Gomez (America Chavez), Benedict Wong (Wong), and Rachel McAdams (Christine Palmer) star alongside Cumberbatch. Michael Waldron ("Rick and Morty," "Loki") penned the screenplay.

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is in theaters now.

In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the MCU unlocks the Multiverse and pushes its boundaries further than ever before. Journey into the unknown with Doctor Strange, who, with the help of mystical allies both old and new, traverses the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities of the Multiverse to confront a mysterious new adversary.