Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness shows that familiar things skew differently in parallel universes. Indeed, somewhere out there, as shown in the film, red means go, and green means stop. But one thing is for certain where we all live: Benedict Cumberbatch and director Sam Raimi joining together for a comic book movie mean big business for cinemas and for Disney.
The 28th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (plus a few relevant-to-the-storyline television series, like WandaVision) cast a spell over ticket buyers across the globe this weekend. Domestically, the story of the former Sorcerer Supreme earned $185 million, according to Variety. Overseas markets brought in $265 million for a cumulative score of $450 million.
These earnings come despite the film not playing in China, which surpassed the United States as the number-one movie market during the coronavirus pandemic.
Also, the Guardian reported late last month that censors representing Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar demanded Disney cut 12 seconds of “LGBTQ content.” (In the film, the character America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez, reflects on her childhood with two mothers.) “It’s a simple edit,” Saudi Arabia’s general supervisor of cinema classification said. (Having seen the film I can say it would erase the character’s motivation if you don’t know who those two women in her flashback scene are.) Disney “has so far declined the requested edits,” the Guardian reported.
Nevertheless, the movie is still the 11th-highest opening in history, according to Variety. For director Raimi, whose roots in indie horror can be found in masterpieces like Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, and whose love of schtick fantasy can be found in television series like Xena: Warrior Princess, this is a return to form. It is the first film in theaters for him since 2013’s underwhelming Oz the Great and Powerful, and a triumph for the man whose early aughts Spider-Man trilogy, which pre-dated the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is foundational for modern comic book movies.