'Doctor Strange' Outpaces 'Downton Abbey' To Control Box Office Dominance

Zinger Key Points
  • Coming this weekend: "Top Gun: Maverick" and "The Bob's Burgers Movie."
  • Also worth noting: How Orson Welles learned his "Othello" was an award winner at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe maintained its domination of the U.S. box office this weekend as the Walt Disney Co.’s DIS “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” grossed $30 million from 4,534 theaters for its third week in theatrical release.

What Happened: Trailing behind “Doctor Strange” for second place in the box office rankings was “Downton Abbey: A New Era” from Comcast Corp’s CMCSA Focus Features generated $18 million from 3,820 screens for its weekend premiere engagement. Another new film opening over the weekend, A24’s British horror import “Men,” ranked fifth among the weekend’s top grossing films with $3.3 million from 2,212 theaters.

The other films completing the top five releases for the weekend were “The Bad Guys” from Comcast’s Universal Pictures, now in its fifth week of release with $5.7 million from 3,705 venues, and Paramount’s PARAA “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” now in its seventh week of theatrical release with $3.95 million from 2,943 theaters.

What Happens Next: One doesn’t need psychic powers to predict the upcoming Memorial Day weekend will be dominated by one film: Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” the long-anticipated follow-up to the 1986 blockbuster with Tom Cruise back in the cockpit.

The only other studio release going up against “Top Gun: Maverick” in a nationwide rollout is the animated feature “The Bob Burgers Movie,” adapted from the popular television series and released by Disney’s 20th Century Studios unit.

This coming weekend also includes several smaller films in limited release, including Amazon’s AMZN documentary “Kick Like Tayla” about Australian athlete Tayla Harris; Neon’s Italian drama “A Chiara”; and Greenwich Entertainment’s Faroe Islands import “A Taste of Whale,” which will also have a simultaneous streaming release via Amazon and Apple’s AAPL Apple TV.

What Else Happened: The 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival kicked off on May 17 and will run through May 28. Throughout the years, this centerpiece of the film festival circuit has been marked by tumult and controversy.

The festival was created in response to the attention lavished on the Venice Film Festival launched by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini – the French felt they could one-up Il Duce and scheduled their event to premiere on Sept. 1, 1939. However, an event that took place on the same day forced the festival to shut down before the film projectors were threaded.

The festival was relaunched in 1946, but it was not held in 1948 and 1950 due to financial difficulties. The festival was halted in 1968 as labor unrest rocked France, and was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Politics have repeatedly intruded in the festival, most notably in 1959 when the U.S. delegation pressured the organizers not to screen “Hiroshima Mon Amour” in competition. This year, Russian journalists working for news outlets that have not voiced their opposition to the war in Ukraine were denied accreditation to the event.

Perhaps the oddest happening occurred when Orson Welles’ “Othello” received the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film at the 1952 event. Although Welles was American and the film was mostly financed by Italians, neither the U.S. nor Italy wanted the film as part of their Cannes entries, so Welles presented the film as a Moroccan production, based on the locations where “Othello” was mostly shot; Morocco was still a French protectorate at the time and four years away from being independent.

“Well, you're never told if you've won until the end,” Welles would later recall in an interview with Peter Bogdanovich. “I was sitting in my hotel room, and the director of the festival, Robert Favre Le Bret, called me on the phone and said, 'What is the Moroccan national anthem?' And that was how I knew I'd won the first prize. Because they always play the national anthem of the winning country. And, of course, there is no Moroccan national anthem, or wasn't then, so they played something out of ‘Chu Chin Chow’ or something, and everybody stood up. There was no Moroccan delegation or anything. I think I'm the sole winner in the Arab world of a great international prize.”

Photo: A scene from "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," courtesy of Disney

Posted In: box officeCannes Film FestivalDoctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessentertainment newsMarvel Cinematic UniversemoviesOrson WellesTop Gun: MaverickEntertainmentNewsGeneral