Beyond the Screen #16: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Firestarter Box Office Takings

We take a look back at the box office performance of last weekend’s theatrical releases.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Second Week Drop

After the sort of mammoth opening everyone was expecting from a cameo-stuffed Phase 4 Marvel sequel ($450 million globally, of which $187 million made up the domestic weekend), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness suffered a significant drop in its second weekend, falling by 67%. This is a similar second weekend performance to previous Marvel effort Spider-Man: No Way Home, which dropped by 67.5% and went on to gross $1.8 billion, but with a crucial difference: No Way Home’s second weekend encompassed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day (historically a stretch marked by low cinema attendance), whereas Multiverse of Madness was poised to launch the summer movie season with little in the way of competition.

It seems word of mouth has had a hand in curbing both second viewings and recommendations. An opening night audience graded the film a B+ for Cinemascore, an unusually low score for a Marvel film, tying with director Sam Raimi’s own Spider-Man 3 and the much-derided X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This mixed reception may come down to common complaints concerning the film’s horror elements, portrayal of fan-favourite characters, and a failure to meet expectations brought about by the film’s trailer. The weekend’s domestic take was $61.755 million, while international markets brought in $83.5 million, bringing the global total to $688 million.

Firestarter Weak Opening

The only new major release over the weekend was Firestarter, adapted from Stephen King’s 1980 sci-fi horror. Previously filmed as a 1984 Drew Barrymore film, audiences will recognize more than a little bit of Eleven from Stranger Things in the novel’s dangerous supernatural toddler on the run from a shady government agency. This, along with star Zac Efron and the prestige of the Blumhouse brand were not enough to draw an audience; the film made $3.8 million in its opening weekend domestically, not fairing much better elsewhere where it banked $2.1 million from 40 markets. This means Firestarter (2022) earned less in its opening weekend then Firestarter (1984) unadjusted for inflation. The film’s performance has likely been halted by its simultaneous streaming release on Peacock, and its severely negative critical reception.

Specialty Box Office

One film unlikely to suffer from its poor reviews is Family Camp, a faith-based comedy which opened in a limited release of 854 theaters, bringing in $1.4 million. An impressive showing for a less than wide-release in the current theatrical market, but only enough to land the liturgical laugh-fest at number 9.

Weekend Top 5

With Doctor Strange still claiming the top spot, animated kids film The Bad Guys is left in second place out of the domestic top 5 despite having been in release for 4 weeks now, adding $7 million to its global total of $166 million, while Sonic the Hedgehog 2 continues to perform well into its 6th week of release, raking in $4.6 million in third place. In fourth place at the domestic box office was Firestarter, and in fifth place was the continued astonishing performance of Everything Everywhere All At Once, bringing in $3.3 million in its eighth week of release and dropping just 6%.

Globally it’s much the same story, though positions 4 and 5 at the Worldwide box office are occupied by Shin Ultraman ($7.7 million from Japan alone) and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore ($6.4 million).