Doctor Strange Kicks Off The Summer Box Office With A Bigger Than Expected Bang

While summer doesn't officially start until the end of June, for all intents and purposes, the first weekend of May is often seen as the beginning of the summer movie season. And it kicked off with a big, magical bang this past weekend as "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" finally hit theaters. It is not remotely surprising that the movie topped the box office as every other studio got out of its way, offering it a clear path to domination. What is surprising is just how much money the movie made, obliterating even quite robust estimates heading into the weekend. Once again, Marvel reigns supreme.

But "The Bad Guys" and "Sonic 2" continued to take in some cash, other movies continued to fall down the charts in a hurry, and "The Lost City" is about to become one of the most impressive success stories of the year. Let's dig into the numbers, shall we?

Doctor Strange casts an effective spell on moviegoers

Topping the charts in its first weekend of release, Sam Raimi's "Doctor Strange" sequel took in an estimated $185 million domestically according to Box Office Mojo. That puts it at number 11 all-time in terms of opening weekends, sitting just outside of the top 10 behind "Avengers: Age of Ultron" ($191 million). This is especially impressive when we consider that Benedict Cumberbatch's first solo film as the Sorcerer Supreme, released in 2016, debuted to $85 million en route to a $676 million global finish. To be clear, that was an outstanding result for a movie based on a character few people in the mainstream were overly familiar with, but all of those appearances in movies such as "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Spider-Man: Far From Home" in the years since really helped to boost the hero's profile. Hence, the gigantic upswing.

"Multiverse of Madness" also exceeded all expectations overseas, taking in $265 million from international markets for a gigantic $450 million global start. This is second only to "No Way Home" in the pandemic era and, again, Doctor Strange certainly added to that movie's success as well. Even though the movie carries a good-not-great B+ Cinemascore, the Marvel brand is clearly bulletproof and, when the reviews are good and the story at hand is compelling, the studio has earned the trust of moviegoers damn near implicitly. It's one heck of a start to the summer for movie theaters, that much is certain.

The Bad Guys and Sonic 2 hold their own against Marvel

While it may seem like drops in the bucket, both "The Bad Guys" and "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" managed to stay the course and not totally drown in the wake of Marvel's record-breaking success. Universal's animated flick "The Bad Guys" took in $9.7 million in its third weekend, dropping just shy of 40% compared to last week. That number, again, may seem small but a sub-40% drop in a third week is nothing to scoff at. The film is just shy of $150 million worldwide and stands to become a relatively modest family-friendly hit for Universal. This is good for the studio and good for the industry overall as this was not a previously established theatrical franchise and it has pulled in audiences for several weeks. We need more of that.

"Sonic 2," meanwhile, finished at number three with another $6.2 million, and it will cross the $350 million mark worldwide any minute now. Paramount Pictures is having itself one heck of a year and this now ranks as one of the highest-grossing video game movies ever made. It trails only "Warcraft" ($438 million) but that movie made a mere $47.3 million domestically. "Sonic 2" has found a more well-rounded audience and has paved the way for a growing franchise. The viability of video game movies is a good thing as there is much source material for Hollywood to mine, so long as they can manage to do so correctly. This is an excellent example of things working out for the best.

The Lost City nears $100 million domestic

Speaking of Paramount's very good year, "The Lost City" continued to chug right along, taking in $2.5 million, representing a 34.5% drop from last weekend. The rom-com, which stars Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock, is currently at $94.3 million and has a great shot at crossing the $100 million mark before all's said and done. When factoring in its $68.4 million take from overseas for a $162.7 million total thus far, this is an absolute win (especially considering its $68 million budget).

Rom-coms no longer have to merely exist on streaming services — they can still be theatrically viable crowd-pleasers. This is a very important win for those who value the theatrical experience outside of superhero films and established horror franchises. Yes, "The Lost City" will be streaming on Paramount+ this week which means it's certainly nearing the end of its run but if/when it can cross $100 million, it will be something worth celebrating.

And the rest...

Taking a trip to "oh no" country for a moment, "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore" fell to number four this weekend, taking in just $3.9 million in its fourth weekend. The "Harry Potter" spin-off has made a mere $86 million domestically up to this point and will mightily struggle to make it to $100 million. Yes, it has made $277 million internationally but that's not going to be enough to save it and it may not even cross the $400 million mark by the time its run is over and done. It's going to make an awful lot less than "The Crimes of Grindelwald," which already made an awful lot less than the first "Fantastic Beasts." This corner of the Wizarding World is done. Period.

"Everything Everywhere All At Once" continues to be the little movie (that feels big) that could, taking in another $3.3 million for a $41.5 million domestic total in its seventh weekend. A24 has a winner here and it is almost certainly going to cross $50 million before its run is over. This is an absolute word-of-mouth miracle. Sadly, the $90 million Viking epic "The Northman" fell all the way to number six this weekend with a mere $2.7 million. It has barely eclipsed $50 million worldwide and, sad to say, this is already in contention to become one of the biggest bombs of the year.

In more bad news, Nic Cage's delightful comedy "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" dropped 60.6% taking in a mere $1.5 million in its third weekend. Currently sitting at $20.8 million worldwide against a $30 million budget, it's safe to say that this is not what Lionsgate had hoped for and that one of the actor's best-reviewed movies of his career deserved better. Rounding out the top 10 were Liam Neeson's "Memory" ($1.2 million) and "Father Stu" ($800,000).