You won’t have to worry about arguing for or against the idea of superhero fatigue when Marvel’s Doctor Strange movie casts a spell on the North American box office this upcoming weekend. This bold big-screen introduction for the Sorcerer Supreme takes the Marvel Cinematic Universe in wildly imaginative new directions.
Critics have become increasingly tough on superhero movies with the genre accounting for enough new entries each year to require two hands to count them on. Yet Doctor Strange reviews have bucked that trend with an incredible 91 percent approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes with 130 critics chiming in so far.
It helps that Doctor Strange stars Benedict Cumberbatch in the titular role, the man known more for brilliantly bringing Sherlock Holmes to life on BBC and much less for Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness. Cumberbatch commands screen presence and has the attitude to go up against Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) in the ever-expanding Marvel world.
What Scott Derrickson and his writing team have done is introduce a mystical corner of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe that has only been touched upon in previous films. It’s a breath of fresh air the superhero genre needs after Avengers: Civil War saw a dozen superheros blow stuff up a little better than previous Captain America movie entries.
Current opening weekend estimates peg Doctor Strange opening in the neighborhood of $70 million on 3,800 screens. I think we’re looking at a possible Guardians of the Galaxy scenario where positive word-of-mouth from Friday viewings helps drive up weekend business to the tune of an unexpected $94.3 million. Don’t be surprised if Doctor Strange gets up into the $80 million range by the time Sunday wraps up.
We’ll get our first indication of Doctor Strange’s mass appeal after late Thursday night showings are reported early Friday morning.