After Spider-Man: No Way Home, it is possible that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness could be an even bigger financial success for the MCU.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
It seems all but certain that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be another hit for Marvel and Disney but it didn’t quite eclipse the incredible box office success of Spider-Man: No Way Home – though it had the opportunity. Since Disney became the home of Marvel Studios on December 31st, 2009, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown to become the king of the box office. However, the astonishing success of Avengers: Endgame was followed by less-than-stellar box office performances, particularly from Eternals and Black Widow which led to the feeling that perhaps the crown was slipping.
The release of Spider-Man: No Way Home changed that. With its delirious mix of fun, emotion, and nostalgia it was a huge success, earning $1.891 billion at the box office despite the Covid-19 pandemic. This wasn’t exactly a surprise as Spider-Man has been an iconic superhero for years and Tom Holland’s portrayal was already popular with audiences. In addition to this, the appearance of much-loved villains like Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), and Electro (Jamie Foxx), as well as the two previous big-screen Spider-Men (Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield) made the movie a full-blown cross-generational crowd-pleaser. The difficulty Multiverse of Madness faces is in trying to follow that success.
On the face of it, Multiverse of Madness has some specific advantages that even Spider-Man: No Way Home didn’t have. Doctor Strange 2 is the summer’s first big release, which could be a distinct advantage given that it will have few obvious box office rivals in the weeks following its release. More than this, its running time of just over two hours is over twenty minutes shorter than Spider-Man: No Way Home. This made it possible for theaters to fit in more screenings during those lucrative early weeks. Ultimately, however, Multiverse of Madness didn’t top No Way Home’s opening day domestic box office performance, grossing over $85 million as compared to the latter’s $121.5 million. Despite a tantalizing set-up, the movie could not recapture the magic of No Way Home and deliver an improvement on the novel multiverse concept explored in the previous film. As a result, Multiverse of Madness wasted the opportunity to improve upon No Way Home‘s box office fortunes.
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