‘Doc­tor Strange’ spins magic at re-en­er­gized box of­fice

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Lind­sey Bahr AP Film Writer

LOS AN­GE­LES >> A strong batch of new films drew au­di­ences to the theaters in large num­bers this weekend, in­clud­ing Marvel’s “Doc­tor Strange,” the an­i­mated “Trolls” and Mel Gib­son’s World War II drama “Hack­saw Ridge,” ef­fec­tively wak­ing up the sleepy fall box of­fice. The top three films all gar­nered largely pos­i­tive re­views from crit­ics and all recorded A Cine­maS­cores from open­ing weekend au­di­ences too.

As the su­per­hero in the bunch, “Doc­tor Strange” eas­ily dom­i­nated with $85 mil­lion in North Amer­ica theaters ac­cord­ing to stu­dio es­ti­mates Sunday. Star­ring Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch as the neu­ro­sur­geon turned sorcerer, “Doc­tor Strange” opened in­ter­na­tion­ally last weekend. It’s al­ready grossed $325.4 mil­lion glob­ally.

It’s the 14th film in the Marvel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse and the 14th to open at No. 1. As one of the lesser-known prop­er­ties, it far-sur­passed “Ant-Man’s” $57.2 mil­lion launch, but fell a lit­tle short of “Guardians of the Galaxy’s” $94.3 mil­lion de­but.

Much of the “Doc­tor Strange” business came from pre­mium large for­mat screens and 3D show­ings, which, ac­cord­ing to RealD, made up 47 per­cent of the do­mes­tic gross.

“Movie theaters ex­ist for a movie like ‘Doc­tor Strange,’” said Dave Hol­lis, the ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of dis­tri­bu­tion for The Walt Dis­ney Com­pany.

For one, Hol­lis said, it’s just vis­ually dif­fer­ent.

“Yes, for a mar­ket­ing tagline the idea that it’s some­thing that you haven’t seen be­fore is a great way to sell some­thing, but hav­ing some­thing that ar­rests and to­tally dis­rupts what peo­ple are ex­pect­ing to see in­side of a movie the­ater is part of what will help jump start what has been a bit of a slower box of­fice lately which is good not only for us but for the en­tire mar­ket­place,” Hol­lis said.

The weekend also drove The Walt Dis­ney Studios to sur­pass the $6 bil­lion mark glob­ally — a first for the stu­dio and a sec­ond for the in­dus­try.

Dis­ney wasn’t the only one cel­e­brat­ing, though. DreamWorks An­i­ma­tion’s “Trolls,” a fam­ily-friendly mu­si­cal fea­tur­ing the voices of Anna Ken­drick and Justin Tim­ber­lake, took sec­ond place with $45.6 mil­lion in North Amer­ica, and $30 mil­lion in­ter­na­tion­ally. In ad­di­tion to be­ing one of the first new fam­ily films to hit the mar­ket in a few weeks, the film also had the added ben­e­fit of an orig­i­nal hit song from Tim­ber­lake, “Can’t Stop the Feel­ing.”

And in third place, “Hack­saw Ridge,” Gib­son’s film about the true story of the con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tor Des­mond Doss’s (Andrew Garfield) hero­ics dur­ing the bat­tle of Ok­i­nawa, earned $14.8 mil­lion. The in­de­pen­dently fi­nanced film cost a re­ported $40 mil­lion to make.

“It’s a real re­turn to form for Mel Gib­son who has ob­vi­ously had his ups and downs in his per­sonal life, but it is a true mer­i­toc­racy in this business,” noted Paul Der­garabe­dian, se­nior me­dia an­a­lyst for box of­fice tracker comS­core. “If you make a re­ally great movie, peo­ple will judge you based on that movie.”

Gib­son hasn’t di­rected a film since “Apoca­lypto” in 2006.

Holdovers pop­u­lated spots four and five. “Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Hal­loween,” dropped 55 per­cent in its third weekend in theaters. It made $7.8 mil­lion, bring­ing its to­tal earn­ings to $65 mil­lion.

Perry also man­aged to beat out “In­ferno” again, which brought in only $6.3 mil­lion in weekend two to take fifth place. The Tom Hanks-star­rer has grossed $26.1 mil­lion to date.

In lim­ited re­lease, the likely awards film “Lov­ing,” about the true story of the cou­ple be­hind the Supreme Court de­ci­sion that in­val­i­dated laws against in­ter­ra­cial mar­riage, also opened in four theaters to $169,000.

Over­all the box of­fice is up around 16 per­cent from this weekend last year, which Der­garabe­dian says is at­trib­ut­able to the qual­ity of the new films, au­di­ences’ de­sire for some es­capism be­fore the elec­tion on Tues­day and the di­ver­sity of con­tent. The top three films all had dif­fer­ent rat­ings too, “Doc­tor Strange” is PG-13, “Trolls” is PG and “Hack­saw Ridge” is rated R.

“This is the for­mula that Hol­ly­wood should try to recre­ate ev­ery weekend,” Der­garabe­dian said.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch per­forms in a scene from Marvel’s “Doc­tor Strange.”

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Char­ac­ters Poppy, left, voiced by Anna Ken­drick, and Branch, voiced by Justin Tim­ber­lake, in a scene from “Trolls.”

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