Weekend Box Office

Weekend Box Office Results: Doctor Strange Conjures Up a Monster Debut

The Marvel superhero blockbuster predictably dominated theaters and posted the second-highest opening of the pandemic behind only Spider-Man: No Way Home on the weekend of May 6-8, 2022.

by | May 8, 2022 | Comments

The summer movie season begins! No Marvel delays this year as Hollywood, and theaters in particular, are hoping to start putting together some consistent numbers from years past. The number of releases is still down from the usual packed summers of old, but studios are counting on their tentpoles to make the headlines look strong; they’ll be even stronger if films like Elvis, The Black Phone, and Marcel the Shell With Shoes On break out of the pack. First things first, however: When we look at the last 10 summers of the pre-pandemic era, the film to kick off the season finished either first or second at the box office by the end of the summer. That trend appears to have a strong candidate once again.


King of the Crop: Doctor Strange Kicks off the Summer in Style

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

(Photo by Walt Disney Pictures)

Marvel & Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness began with $36 million on Thursday, the eighth-highest pre-Friday release total ever. That led to an opening weekend of $185 million, representing the second-highest start during the pandemic behind only Spider-Man: No Way Home. That’s $100 million higher than the first Doctor Strange film for the best opening of 2022 over The Batman’s $134 million start, the ninth-highest Disney opening ever, and the seventh-best Marvel opening ever. Not too shabby, but also not all that unexpected. Its worldwide total is already at $450 million. Only 4 days in, though, the conversation now shifts to how far will it go.

While numbers have certainly been improving late in the pandemic, there are still some norms in regards to word-of-mouth and repeat business that have not entirely gotten up to speed. The fact that every film to have opened to higher than $174 million has grossed at least $400 million domestically still seems like a very reachable goal for the Multiverse of Madness. Captain America: Civil War and Iron Man 3 are the lowest-grossing films on that list with $408 million and $409 million, respectively. As long as this film stays above $72 million next weekend, it will continue to track towards that pace. A $400 million grosser will be hard to beat this summer, let alone the only film (until, maybe, July 29’s Bullet Train) likely to lead the box office for three straight weeks. Jurassic World: Dominion and Thor: Love and Thunder are the next two best shots at that number, but the Multiverse of Madness has staked an early claim to coming out ahead.


The Top 10 and Beyond: Not Many Surprises as The Bad Guys Drops, Fantastic Beasts Struggles

The Bad Guys

(Photo by ©Universal Pictures)

After two weeks at No. 1, the animated The Bad Guys falls back to second place this weekend with $9.7 million. It missed becoming just the second animated film since 2019 to have three straight weekends of $10 million or more after another Universal film, Sing 2, did it from December into January. The Bad Guys is not going to fly as high as that film did, but it is close to pacing Heaven Is For Real, an April release from 2014 that grossed over $91 million after an $8.6 million third weekend brought its 17-day total to $59.3 million. The Bad Guys is at $57 million. This is a top 10 film for at least another six weeks with no further direct competition until Lightyear on June 17.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 also continues to hold well with families. It dropped 45% to $6.2 million, bringing its total to over $169 million. That is about $9 million higher than A Quiet Place had after its first month and about $26 million less than Fast Five did. Somewhere around $190-195 million looks very possible, and even without another international dollar, it would still be enough to be the fourth highest-grossing video game-based film ever worldwide behind Warcraft, Pokemon Detective Pikachu, and Rampage, all of which grossed between $428-433 million total. Paramount’s other top 10 holder, The Lost City, continues to make its way towards $100 million. Another 35% drop to $2.5 million and it is up to $94 million. The milestone is in play and would give Sandra Bullock her ninth live-action $100 million grosser.

The cast of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

(Photo by Jaap Buitendijk/©Warner Bros.)

After showing some signs it might make it to $100-105 million last week, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, is struggling once again. This week it is trying to hang on to the same pace that the aforementioned Rampage had back in 2018. At $86 million after 24 days, Fantastic Beasts is ahead of Rampage’s $84.8 million in the same period; the latter’s fourth weekend amounted to $4.6 million, while the former’s is currently at $4 million. The Dwayne Johnson video game adaptation got itself over $101 million, and a lot may rest on Beasts having a drop of only 25-30% next week. Beasts may actually be besting Sonic’s worldwide gross with over $338 million right now, but its budget was $110 million higher than the Hedgehog’s second outing.

The Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All At Once is headed for its own slice of history. For the first time in six weeks, the Michelle Yeoh/Ke Huy Quan/Stephanie Hsu film dropped more than 12.3%, ultimately dropping 30-35% to $3.3 million but raising its total to over $41 million. That puts it less than $9 million away from becoming A24’s all-time highest-grossing film. Hereditary, which made $1.02 million in its fifth weekend, will be the next film to fall on that list as Everything Everywhere continues to climb, followed then by Lady Bird. The studio’s champion, Uncut Gems, made $694,573 in the same spot, earning $46.7 million in its first 40 days of release and finishing with $50.02 million. Again, Everything Everywhere All At Once grossed $3.5 million this weekend and has Howard Ratner in its sights.

Alexander Skarsgård in The Northman (2022)

(Photo by Aidan Monaghan/©Focus Features)

The Northman is already Focus’ highest-grossing film since Harriet in 2019, but also one of the most expensive they’ve released, at $90 million. A rise to $28 million is not helping anyone’s bottom line on that film, especially after losing a quarter of its theaters this weekend. Losing more than half its theaters is Lions Gate’s The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Last week, a landing between $16-18 million total was the call. It currently stands at $16.3 million after a $1.5 million weekend, less than where Mark Wahlberg and Father Stu are after four weeks; it will get itself over $20 million. Memory with Liam Neeson will not even hit $10 million, as it fell 56% down to $1.2 million for a total of just $5.5 million.

Finally, IFC released Audrey Diwan’s Happening this week in four theaters. The Golden Lion winner from last year’s Venice Film Festival, about a woman’s struggle to secure an abortion in 1960s France when it was illegal, grossed $34,000. That’s an $8,500 per-theater-average, the fifth best for a limited release this year after Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Worst Person in the World, Petite Maman, and the 2022 re-release of David Lynch’s Inland Empire. IFC will expand the film next week into over 100 cities. The film currently carries a 100% with critics on the Tomatometer.


On the Vine: Firestarter Will Attempt to Lure Viewers Away from Doctor Strange

Ryan Kiera Armstrong in Firestarter (2022)

(Photo by Universal Pictures)

Doctor Strange should have no problem retaining the top spot as the only wide release next week will be the new adaptation of Stephen King’s Firestarter from Keith Thomas, the director of The Vigil. Universal is not letting critics a chance to see it until Thursday night and it will also be debuting next week on Peacock; not expecting big returns on that. In limited release, United Artists will finally be releasing Jarrod Carmichael’s On The Count of Three. The darkly comic film about two men, Carmichael and Christopher Abbott, looking to end their lives, debuted at Sundance in 2021. It’s Certified Fresh at 86% on the Tomatometer.


Full List of Box Office Results: May 6-8, 2022


  • $185 million ($185 million total)

  • $9.77 million ($57.6 million total)

  • $6.2 million ($169.9 million total)

  • $3.95 million ($86 million total)

  • $3.32 million ($41.6 million total)

  • $2.77 million ($28.1 million total)

  • $2.5 million ($94.4 million total)

  • $1.53 million ($16.4 million total)

  • $1.2 million ($5.5 million total)

  • $800,000 ($19.2 million total)


Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]


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