ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

So, here's the thing: totals are unusual things. Despite being superficially straightforward — seeing as, on the surface, a film either made x amount of money or it didn't — they ultimately hide a huge amount of complexity, both with regards to their own past (in terms of current profitability) and their future (in terms of likely profitability). What's more, the whole issue is complicated still further by studios' reluctance to tell us exactly how much most movies cost to make and market, or indeed how much money they have already raked in from overseas distribution sales, ancillary merchandising and brand integration.

With all that being said, though, there are still a few key moments in any movie's time at the box office, and it seems that ' has just soared past one of them.


Doctor Strange Just Hit A Super Important Box Office Milestone

[Doctor Strange/Marvel Studios]
[Doctor Strange/Marvel Studios]

More specifically, it reportedly passed the $100 million mark at the US box office this past Wednesday. Which is a) great news for anyone hoping to see , and b) far more interesting in box office terms than it may initially seem.

The reason?

$100 Million Is Only The Start For Doctor Strange

[Doctor Strange/Marvel Studios]
[Doctor Strange/Marvel Studios]

In fact, with the film currently projected to earn $40–42 million in its second weekend, it's entirely possible that it could hit the $150 million mark before Monday rolls around, and then close in on $200 million by the weekend after. Which, accompanied by an already substantial box office tally in the international market (currently at $240 million and counting), gives the film a solid chance of hitting the worldwide $500 million mark in the very near future.

For many movies, though, that wouldn't be all that impressive. Had made so little in its opening week, for example, we would all have been discussing its relative under-performance — much as 's eventual total of $872 million is widely seen as disappointing, despite being objectively huge. That, of course, has much to do with the distinctly relative expectations heaped onto different blockbusters — Doctor Strange was never expected to make as much money as Civil War, and will have budgeted accordingly — but it doesn't make it impossible to gauge whether Doctor Strange actually lived up to expectations. And, so, the burning question?

Is Doctor Strange Actually Doing Well?

[Doctor Strange/Marvel Studios]
[Doctor Strange/Marvel Studios]

Well, in short, yes. Yes it is.

Y'see, if the film does indeed make $40–42 million in its second weekend, that would represent a drop-off of around 52 percent. Which, while sounding fairly bleak at first glance, would actually be something of a coup. After all, for superhero "event" movies like Doctor Strange, anything below a 65 percent drop off seems to now be a storming success, with having to content itself with a 67.4 percent drop off, Batman v Superman with a 69.1 percent, and even Captain America: Civil War — the biggest hit of the three — only managing 59.5 percent.

In other words? A 52 percent drop off would be a pretty huge deal for the good doctor, and would seem to suggest that not only is good word of mouth helping the film in the immediate short term, but that it may well continue to do so for several weeks. That, in turn, could ultimately help the film to a surprisingly high final box office total, and give its director a solid chance of making an even more spectacle-laden sequel.

In other words? While $100 million may not seem like a lot in comparison to some other films' vast opening weekends, the numbers that lie behind it seem to suggest that Doctor Strange is currently over-performing expectations, and ticking a whole lot of key financial boxes for its studio. Which, with Marvel having three "bigger hitters" coming up next year in the form of , and , is likely music to a whole lot of accountants' ears. After all, all three are likely expected to rake in more than $100 million on their opening weekends — to which the adding of a comparably low drop-off rate to Doctor Strange would likely cause spasms of financial glee.

Or, alternatively, Doctor Strange is set to see such a small drop off entirely because of fans seeking solace in spectacle in the wake of the hugely divisive US election, in which case the film's success may yet tell us comparatively little about the future of the . But where's the fun in that, eh?

What do you think, though? Does Doctor Strange's success bode well for the MCU, or will it simply turn out to be an anomaly? Let us know below!

[Deadline, BoxOfficeMojo]


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