'Doctor Strange' on track for a Marvel-ous weekend


Things are looking up after a lackluster last weekend that saw new release Inferno tank with a debut of only $15 million. This time around, Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange should open somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 million, easily trouncing fellow new releases Trolls and Hacksaw Ridge. Internationally, Doctor Strange has already earned $132.9 million, with release in a handful of territories—key among them China—yet to take place. A boffo debut for Strange would cap off a good week for Disney. On Wednesday the studio pushed past the $5.84 billion mark in global ticket sales, making 2016 their highest-grossing year ever, with several major releases (Doctor Strange, Star Wars: A Rogue One Story, Moana) still to come.

Coming in at second place will be Trolls, an animated karaoke musical based on those wild-haired little dolls that were such a sensation in decades past. Reviews are positive, if less enthusiastic than those for Doctor StrangeTrolls has a 75% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes to Strange’s 90%. Predictions place Trolls' opening at around $35 million, which would put it roughly in the company of fellow 2016 animated films Kung Fu Panda 3 ($41.2 million) and The Angry Birds Movie ($38.1 million). One factor to consider that could put it even higher, though, is that it’s been a month and a half since the opening of Storks, the latest animated film to hit theatres. Given the recent dearth of all-ages entertainment, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Trolls pulled a Secret Life of Pets and exceeded expectations, though that film’s massive $104.3 million opening is out of its reach.

Mel Gibson tests the waters of his Hollywood comeback with Hacksaw Ridge, a WWII drama about real-life Army Medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), the first Conscientious Objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Its theatre count (2,880) is on the modest side, but reviews have been positive. An opening in the neighborhood of $10-$15 million is likely. That would put it in line with most of Gibson's other directorial efforts, with the $83.8 million earned by The Passion of the Christ on its opening weekend in 2004 being the outlier.

Among limited releases, Jeff Nichols’ Loving opens in four theatres in advance of a later expanded rollout from distributor Focus Features. Oscar buzz and positive reviews will help this one along, though it’ll be lucky to surpass the record-setting $402,074 earned by Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight in the same number of theatres two weeks ago. Also making their debuts in a handful of theatres are Peter and the Farm, The Ivory Game and Don’t Call Me Son.