'Doctor Strange' Tops Box Office With $61M; 'Firestarter' Is A Non-Starter With Audiences

Zinger Key Points
  • A24’s offbeat “Everything Everywhere All at Once” continues to find new audiences.
  • Coming next weekend: “Downton Abbey: A New Era.”

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” was the top attraction at the U.S. weekend box office for the second consecutive week, generating $61 million in ticket sales from 4,534 theaters.

What Happened: The latest Marvel Cinematic Universe title from the Walt Disney Co. DIS has generated nearly $292 million since arriving in U.S. theaters and has accumulated approximately $700 million in global ticket sales.

Two family-friendly titles also continued to generate strong box office performances: the animated feature “The Bad Guys” from Comcast Corp.’s CMCSA Universal Pictures brought in $6.9 million from 3,788 screens for its fourth week in release and Paramount’s PARAA “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” absorbed $4.5 million from 3,116.

The weekend’s big disappointment was Universal’s new version of “Firestarter,” based on the Stephen King novel – the film brought in $3.8 million from 3,412 theaters in its premiere weekend engagement. However, the film was also playing in a simultaneous streaming release via Comcast's Peacock service, and that may have diluted its theatrical numbers.

But the biggest surprise might have been the continued drawing power of A24’s offbeat “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which has been expanding its theatrical visibility and profitability during its eight weeks in release – it grossed another $3.3 million this weekend from 1,726 theaters, which created a $47.1 million total from its ongoing theatrical run.

What Happens Next: The major theatrical release for the coming weekend is “Downton Abbey: A New Era,” which continues the saga of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants. Comcast’s Focus Features unit is bringing this film into nationwide release after several delays – the film was initially scheduled to hit theaters last December for the Christmas season and was then scheduled for a March playdate.

Also arriving on the big screen is the Briarcliff Entertainment and Open Road Films release of “Good Mourning,” a stoner-inspired comedy starring Machine Gun Kelly, Megan Fox and Pete Davidson; A24’s British dramatic import “Men” starring Gayle Rankin and Rory Kinnear; and IFC Films’ documentary “Hold Your Fire” about the 1973 New York City hostage incident that shaped the concept of hostage negotiation.

Also Happening: One hundred years ago, a tiny company in Kansas City began producing a series of one-reel cartoons under the Laugh-O-Gram banner. The cartoons were inspired by fairy tales and incorporated slapstick and irreverence into their retelling of the classic stories.

Seven cartoons were created as part of the series, with “Little Red Riding Hood” being the first of the septet. However, that film and the full series made little impression with audiences, and the studio declared bankruptcy one year later. “Little Red Riding Hood” dropped out of sight and was mostly forgotten until 1980 when the American Film Institute included it on a list of the “10 Most Wanted Films for Archival Preservation” – many film scholars complained that the obscure short was only cited because it was created by a then-unknown animator named Walt Disney.

A print of “Little Red Riding Hood” was recovered in a London film library in 1998 and has been restored. And while it is far from classic Disney, it offers an interesting glimpse at the legendary filmmaker’s humble cinematic roots.

Photo: Benedict Cumberbatch in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” courtesy of Walt Disney Co.

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