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411 Box Office Report: Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness Falls But Still Rules, Firestarter Starts DOA

May 15, 2022 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Benedict Cumberbatch Image Credit: Marvel Studios

To the surprise of few, Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness took a hefty fall in its second weekend at the box office while Firestarter opened without any sparks. The MCU superhero sequel held onto the top spot with ease this weekend, ringing up another $61 million at the domestic box office. That is a 68% drop from its $185 million opening weekend, which is on par with Spider-Man: No Way Home (67%) and Black Widow and steeper than the falls of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (54%) and Eternals (62%).

There’s a weird alarm-sounding going on about this drop, as if Disney needs to go into panic mode. But it was absolutely expected by most. After all, as we noted last week Multiverse of Madness is proving to be a somewhat divisive film among MCU fans and the studio knew that would be the case going in. The B+ CinemaScore was low for the franchise, and the inclusion of horror elements as well as some wild swings by Raimi and the studio meant that this one wasn’t going to hold up as well as something like Shang-Chi. In addition, Multiverse of Madness’ opening weekend was much bigger than Eternals, Widow, or Shang-Chi and as we know, higher starts grosses do tend fall farther, especially for very hyped movies.

The point is, a big second-weekend drop doesn’t mean this film is bottoming out and won’t be a major hit. EVen with that heavy drop, Multiverse currently stands at $291.9 million domestically and a massive $688.1 million worldwide. Those are perfectly fine numbers for this film, which will have another week of no direct competition next weekend and should hold on fine. It won’t be reaching anything approaching Spider-Man: No Way Home levels; remember, while that film also dropped 68% in its second weekend, it had the holidays to keep its grosses high. But domestically there’s still no reason to suspect it won’t be topping $420 million and perhaps higher by the end of its run. Even with a $200 million production budget plus marketing, this is a hit and a half.

The Bad Guys came in at #2 for its second week, as the Universal and Dreamworks animated film brought in $6.9 million. That’s down just 28% in its fourth weekend, a very good number for a film that is holding on well thus far. The adventure comedy has now grossed a respectable $66.3 million domestically and $165.6 million worldwide, making it officially a hit for the studio against a $69 million production budget plus marketing. The domestic total is still looking to finish out at around a decent $75 million.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 rang up $4.6 million in its sixth weekend, slipping just 24% from the last frame. The video game adaptation sequel is racing into thee black with a total of $175.7 million domestically and $355.2 million worldwide. Sonic 2 should end its run at around $185 million in the US; the budget was $90 million.

Firestarter was a flop in its opening weekend. The re-adaptation of the Stephen King novel grossed just $3.8 million, below even the mild mid-to-high single digit expectations most had for it. That makes the lowest non-pandemic opening for a Zac Efron-starring film since 2015’s We Are Your Friends and the lowest opening for a wide-releasing (i.e. over 2,000 theaters) Stephen King adaptation ever, “beating” Thinner’s $5.7 million start in 1996.

It should be said that Firestarter was released day-and-date on Peacock, so that undoubtedly had some effect on the box office. But this film was not going to be a hit no matter how you slice it. Despite being based on a popular King book and being essentially a remake of the well-known 1984 Drew Barrymore-starrer, Firestarter wasn’t able to perform anywhere close to other Peacock day-and-date openings like Marry Me ($7.9 million in February), The Boss Baby: Family Business ($16 million in July 2021), or Halloween Kills ($49.4 million last October).

And of course, it wasn’t ever intended to be a Halloween Kills-like start, but this is brutally low even by day-and-date standards. We can thank the non-existent buzz — due in part to a weak marketing campaign, but also incredibly poor reviews. The film has a 12% aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes and Universal knew that was coming, which is why they didn’t screen it for critics. That meant zero positive press and then when word of the film began to break, it wasn’t positive. Audiences gave the film a C- CinemaScore, which even for horror is a low rating. At RT, the audience score is a not-good 51%

What this all means is that Firestarter is financially doomed, even on a moderately low $12 million budget. It added just $2.1 million overseas for a $5.9 million worldwide gross to date. It may have problems crossing the $10 million line in domestic gross and international probably won’t go any better, making this a “live and learn” situation for Universal and Blumhouse.

In much better news, Everything Everywhere All at Once continues barrelling its way toward becoming A24’s biggest grosser. The Michelle Yeoh starrer was off a mere 6% in its eighth weekend to bring in $3.3 million. It has now grossed $47.1 million domestically and $51.8 million worldwide. The movie is now the studio’s second-highest domestic grosser ever. It’s less than $2 million away from passing Ladybird to take A24’s top spot. At this point, it seems likely to close out in the $55 million range by the end of its run. The budget was $25 million.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore was down 43% in its fifth weekend to pull in $2.4 million. The threequel continues to sputter domestically and do well overseas with $90 million domestically and $376 million worldwide. It is still unlikely to see profit due to the $200 million budget, but it at least shouldn’t lose too much money and should close out at around $95 million stateside or so.

The Lost City added $1.7 million to its coffers in its eighth weekend, down 37%. The adventure-romantic comedy, which has already arrived on streaming via Paramount+, is now at $97.2 million domestic total and $165.6 million worldwide, successful against a $68 million budget. It will close out right around the $100 million mark.

The Northman fell 41% in its fourth weekend, scoring $1.7 million. The Robert Eggers-directed action film was expected to fall, as it hit home viewing on Friday which is where its money will be made. The film has $31.2 million domestically and $58.1 million worldwide, not enough for profit in theaters considering the $70 million budget. Its endgame number is around $35 million.

Roadside Attraction’s faith-based family comedy Family Camp snuck into the top 10 in its opening weekend with $1.4 million. The Brian Cates-directed film was able to capitalize on its core market, slipping its way into theaters with very little promotion and no reviews, much less critical consensus. These kinds of films generally slip quickly out of theaters but it likely wasn’t expensive and certainly wasn’t marketed heavily so Roadside could make some money here.

Nicolas Cage’s Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent closed out the top 10 with $1.1 million, down 34%. The meta-action comedy has totalled $18.2 million domestically and $23.9 million worldwide against a $30 million budget. It won’t be profitable in theaters, with a likely domestic total around $22 million.

Next weekend should still see Doctor Strange on top, as its new competition should open decently but modestly. Downton Abbey: A New Era is targeting around $20 million to start, and Bob’s Burgers should be in the $10 million range. Alex Garland’s new folk horror film Men should open in the low to mid-single digits, depending on its theater count.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – $61 million ($291.9 million total, $688.1 million WW)
2. The Bad Guys – $6.9 million ($66.3 million total, $165.6 million WW)
3. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – $4.6 million ($175.7 million total, $355.2 million WW)
4. Firestarter – $3.8 million ($3.8 million total, $5.9 million WW)
5. Everything Everywhere All At Once – $3.3 million ($47.1 million total, $51.8 million WW)
6. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore – $2.4 million ($90 million total, $376 million WW)
7. The Lost City – $1.7 million ($97.2 million total, $165.6 million WW)
8. The Northman – $1.7 million ($31.2 million total, $58.1 million WW)
9. Family Camp – $1.4 million ($1.4 million total, $1.4 million WW)
10. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent – $1.1 million ($18.2 million total, $23.9 million WW)