Doctor Strange and his questionably effective Book of Spells has grossed a $185 million box office hit in North American theaters over the weekend, reaffirming the box office dominance of Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe after a more shaky year. and hit by the pandemic for the franchise.

The timeline-bending “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” represents a return to form for Disney’s MCU after the COVID-era releases “Black Widow” ($80 million debut, plus $60 million on Disney Plus), “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” ($75 million debut) and “Eternals” ($71 million debut). Due to the pandemic and other extenuating circumstances, those installments fell short of their franchise predecessors in terms of ticket sales.

Those box office returns mark the 11th biggest opening weekend in history. Given the anomaly of reaching those box office heights, “Doctor Strange 2” easily delivered the biggest opening weekend of 2022, as well as the second-biggest debut in times of COVID-19. Prior to this weekend, “The Batman” stood as the biggest opening weekend of the year with $134 million. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” still ranks as the biggest opening weekend of the pandemic (and second-biggest ever) with $260 million.

Overseas, the film grossed $265 million from 49 territories, bringing the global total to $450 million. With “Doctor Strange 2” likely not opening in China, Russia, or the Ukraine, the film will depend on re-watching by audiences around the world to drive ticket sales past the coveted 1,000 mark. millions of dollars. Only “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has been able to cross that threshold since COVID took hold.

At the domestic box office, the follow-up to “Doctor Strange” surpassed its predecessor’s total opening weekend tally by a single day. “Doctor Strange 2” grossed $90 million on Friday alone, while the 2016 adventure “Doctor Strange” grossed $85 million between Friday and Sunday. Marvel and other major franchise movies tend to get a head start in terms of ticket sales because fans want to be among the first to see the movie, lest spoilers appear online and spoil the fun. Still, the sequel will quickly surpass the final box office tally of the original “Doctor Strange,” which finished its theatrical run with $232 million domestically and $677 million globally.

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