UPDATE (11/6; 7:03PM): Marvel’s Doctor Strange exceeded expectations during its opening weekend at the box office, taking in an estimated $84.9 million. Giving the fall box office a much needed boost following a few weeks of fairly middling openings, Doctor Strange overtook early estimates, which saw the film opening somewhere in the $70 million range. The opening still marks a stronger debut than previous standalone-starter entries like Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor and last year’s Ant-Man; the debut is also just short of Thor: The Dark World‘s opening of $85.7 in the fall of 2013.
EARLIER: Box office receipts will get a nice shot in the arm this weekend with the opening of Marvel’s highly anticipated latest feature Doctor Strange. The news will be be most welcome after a fairly sluggish fall frame so far. The superhero title, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular comic book favorite, is looking to soar to an estimated $75 million once the dust has settled. While this number doesn’t exceed the top chambers of the Marvel canon, it’s a great start for a start-off in the MCU – and ahead of Ant-Man ($57 million), Thor ($65 million) and Captain America: The First Avenger ($65 million).
Doctor Strange kicked off nicely with an estimated $9.4 million take on Thursday evening preview performances (that take will be included in its Friday gross). That number is the seventh strongest Thursday night take for a Marvel feature, by most estimates the film will be near or perhaps even slightly above $30 million as Friday closes. Cutting into Doctor Strange‘s overall potential may be the Fox animated feature Trolls, which is projected to earn about $40 million over the same frame. Still, without question the Marvel title will achieve the strongest opening weekend since Suicide Squad opened to $133 million this past August.
Cumberbatch stars in the Scott Derrickson-directed film, which also features the estimable ensemble cast that includes Tilda Swinton (A Bigger Splash), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Rachel McAdams (Spotlight), Mads Mikkleson (Hannibal) and Benedict Wong. This origin story follows a gifted surgeon who, after surviving a devastating car crash, turns to the mystical, becoming a powerful sorcerer in his own right.
Tracking for the film has ranged in recent weeks for a opening somewhere in the $70 million range, with the high end leaving the potential it could wrangle upwards into the $80 million range. Let’s see how high it can soar.