'Doctor Strange' remains atop box office as 'Top Gun' looms
LOS ANGELES -- Doctor Strange and his multiverse got to linger a little longer atop the weekend box office as Tom Cruise and 'úTop Gun'Ě wait in the wings.
Marvel's 'úDoctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness'Ě was the top-earning film of the weekend for the third straight week, bringing in $31.6 million in 4,534 North American theaters, according to studio estimates released Sunday.
'úDownton Abbey: A New Era'Ě made a strong opening showing for Focus Features with $16 million from 3,820 theaters, but there has been no real blockbuster competition for 'úDoctor Strange."
"This film has had a pretty wide open marketplace," said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. 'úThis weekend really is, this is the proverbial calm before the storm.'Ě
That storm will come in the form of the long-awaited, and long-delayed, release of 'úTop Gun: Maverick,'Ě the sequel that arrives next week on Memorial Day weekend, 36 years after the original smash hit and cultural landmark.
It flies in amid sky-high hype.
'úThe marketing for this movie has really been going on for about three years." Dergarabedian said. "That's a pretty long runway to guild up excitement.'Ě
Cruise had the film festival in Cannes, France, abuzz on Wednesday with a whirlwind appearance for the film's European premiere that included a fly over of French fighter jets and an honorary Palme d'Or award.
'úTop Gun'Ě represents two seemingly fading phenomena - the major movie star and the big-screen-only experience, for which Cruise has been a tireless ambassador. And the industry is hoping they will help bring a more familiar summer for theaters.
'úThis is going to be one of the most important Memorial Day weekends ever, considering what the stakes are,'Ě Dergarabedian said. 'úWe didn't have a traditional summer movie season for two years.'Ě
Before the pandemic, the summer box office season generally brought in more than $4 billion annually. After an essentially non-existent 2020, the 2021 take, in a year of recovery, was $1.75 billion. This year's crop of films, which also includes 'úJurassic World Dominion'Ě and 'úThor: Love and Thunder,'Ě could double that, Dergarabedian said.
But while the world waits, 'úDoctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness'Ě crossed the $800 million mark in global grosses, surpassing 'úThe Batman'Ě to become the top-grossing film of the year.
Released by the Walt Disney Co. and directed by Sam Raimi, 'ú Doctor Strange 2 'Ě benefitted from being the first Marvel movie to follow 'úSpider-Man: No Way Home,'Ě in which Benedict Cumberbatch's sorcerer played a pivotal role.
It also builds upon the popular Disney+ series 'úWandavision'Ě and contains a number of cameos that fans didn't want to be spoiled.
Holdover family films 'úThe Bad Guys'Ě and 'úSonic the Hedgehog 2'Ě took the third and fourth spots. Universal's 'úThe Bad Guys'Ě added $6.1 million in its fifth week. 'úSonic 2'Ě earned $3.9 million in its seventh.
Director Alex Garland's folk horror thriller 'úMen'Ě brought in $3.3 million for production company and distributor A24.
Meanwhile, 'úEverything Everywhere All At Once'Ě is still going strong even after nine weeks in release. The A24 film picked up an additional $3.3 million, down only 6% from the previous weekend, bringing its total grosses to $47 million.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. 'úDoctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,'Ě $31.6 million.
2. 'úDownton Abbey: A New Era,'Ě $16 million.
3. 'úThe Bad Guys,'Ě $6.1 million.
4. "Sonic the Hedgehog 2,'Ě $3.9 million.
5. 'úMen,'Ě $3.3 million.
6. 'úEverything Everywhere All At Once,'Ě $3.1 million.
7. "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,'Ě $1.9 million.
8. 'úFirestarter,'Ě $1.9 million.
9. 'úThe Lost City,'Ě $1.5 million.
10. 'úThe Northman,'Ě $1 million.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton
This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of "Downton Abbey" from "Downtown Abbey."