‘Multiverse’ breathes new life into the multiplex

“Multiverse” has taken over the multiplex.

Disney and Marvel Studios”https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2022/may/13/multiverse-breathes-new-life-into-the-multiplex/”Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” has scored the biggest this year’s theater opening, grossed $185 million at the domestic box office last weekend, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore.

Internationally, the superhero epic raised $265 million for a global cumulative of $450 million — the sixth-highest world debut of all time.

The second film “Doctor Strange” also posted the second-biggest opening of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Directed by “Spider-Man” veteran Sam Raimi, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” sees Benedict Cumberbatch reprise his role as the titular wizard opposite Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, also known as the Red Witch.

On Sunday, “Multiverse of Madness” posted a positive 75% rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes and a B-plus rating from viewers surveyed by CinemaScore.

“I didn’t know the reviews were … so strong for this film, but the Marvel brand is so strong that every film becomes a must-see for fans around the world,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.

“When you look at the top films in the pandemic era that are all superhero films, it seems that the cinematic nature of superhero films … requires a cinema experience and audiences even in these inflationary times.”

“If you see ‘No Way Home,’ there’s no way you can sit outside ‘Doctor Strange,'” Dergarabedian says. He added that the continuity of the characters and the story – “the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole” – has created an “unstoppable cinematic picture.”

“No Way Home” is a Sony title and “Multiverse of Madness” is a Disney title, “but the two are closely related,” says Dergarabedian.

“At the end of the day, I truly believe that ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ provided the helpful pull of ‘Doctor Strange,’ and that’s why we’re looking at these numbers.”

“Multiverse of Madness” also serves as a direct sequel to “WandaVision,” a Disney+ sensation starring Olsen as Wanda and Paul Bettany as Vision. The MCU’s flagship TV series — which received 23 Emmy nominations last year — was a hit with audiences and critics alike.

“This synergistic dynamic between Marvel’s widescreen offerings and smallscreen offerings adds revenue – no doubt – to its core,” said Dergarabedian.

“Each of these properties is like an infomercial for Marvel. … The mix of characters on the big screen and small screen … that’s the future of big franchises.”

Also in theaters last weekend was Universal Pictures’ “https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2022/may/13/multiverse-breathes-new-life-into-the-multiplex/”The Bad Guys,” which added $9.8 million in its third weekend for a North American cumulative of $57.6 million; Paramount Pictures”https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2022/may/13/multiverse-breathes-new-life-into-the- multiplex/ “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” which grossed $6.2 million in its fifth weekend for a North American cumulative of $169.9 million; Warner Bros. “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” which earned $3.95 million in its fourth weekend with a North American cumulative of $86 million; and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” from A24, which grossed $3.3 million in its seventh weekend for a North American cumulative of $41.6 million.

Hollywood’s summer film season typically begins in early May and runs through late August and – apart from the last two years – regularly accounts for more than $4 billion in ticket sales (or about 40% of this year’s gross revenue).

There is little left for another film to hit theaters. Part of that is due to the fact that many multiplexes choose to package their theaters with wall-to-wall screenings of “Doctor Strange.” Film critic Matt Singer tweeted a photo of AMC Manhattan offering 70 screenings on Thursday alone.

The success of “Multiverse of Madness” only helped build momentum for big films of the upcoming summer, like “Top Gun: Maverick” on May 27.

“We have a true summer film season, something we couldn’t have imagined two years ago,” Dergarabedian said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Dare to challenge the “Multiverse of Madness” in wide release this weekend is Universal Pictures’ remake of “Firestarter,” based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name.

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