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Doctor Strange hits $85 million at the US box office

Doctor Strange

Story by Jack Foley

MARVEL’S Doctor Strange has over-performed at the US box office, scoring a much better than expected $85 million on its opening weekend.

The film, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, had been tracking at somewhere between $65 million-$70 million going into the weekend but film-goers flocked to the latest superhero entry to give Marvel yet another box office win.

In doing so, it also ensured that Disney now can lay claim to having five of the 10 top openings of 2016 so far.

What’s more, the film beat the first instalments in the Thor, Captain America and Ant-Man franchises – not bad for one of Marvel’s lesser known characters.

The plot of the film finds Cumberbatch playing a top surgeon who, after his hands are injured in a car accident, seeks out the help of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), a master of the mystical arts. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams also star.

A delighted Dave Hollis, Disney’s distribution chief, commented: “The halo that comes from Marvel Cinematic Universe allows for the introduction of new or less well-known characters, and allows Marvel to take chances others might not.”

Doctor Strange cost $165 million to produce but its global box office performance to date has already helped the film to surpass that amount. In China, it has earned $44.3 million, the top debut for the first instalment in any superhero series.

While its continued success in other international territories, including the UK, has seen the film rake in $325.4 million globally.

Back in the US, there was also good news for a couple of other high profile new releases. Both animated event film Trolls and Mel Gibson’s tough World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge came in at the higher end of expectation.

The former took second place with $45.6 million. Featuring the voices of Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick, the animated musical is based on the classic children’s doll.

Timberlake also served as an executive producer of the soundtrack, which includes his original hit song Can’t Stop the Feeling.

Commenting on the film’s success, Fox distribution president Chris Aronson said: “This is a feel-good movie, starting with Justin’s song. And with all the negativity that’s been gripping our country, this is an antidote to that and puts a smile on your face. Also, it was a well-designed and well-executed marketing campaign.”

Hacksaw Ridge followed in third place with $14.8 million, which marks a really solid start for a violent, R-rated war film. The film, which marks Gibson’s first directorial outing since Apocalypto a decade ago, stars Andrew Garfield as a US Army medic who became the first conscientious objector in history to win the medal of honour after staying behind and saving more than 75 lives, despite refusing to take up arms because of his religious beliefs.

Two other films of note that are currently enjoying strong box office in the US in the speciality field are inter-racial drama Loving and Moonlight, about a young black man grappling with his sexuality.

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