“Doctor Strange”

So far, with a few exceptions, the fall season has been a disappointment for studios. High hopes have been dashed over and over again with a lot of box office misses, such as “Jack Reacher: Never Look Back”, “Inferno”, “Deepwater Horizon”, and even the usually reliable Kevin Hart slipped with his latest stand-up special, “What Now?”.

But Marvel once again came to the rescue with their latest film “Doctor Strange” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which made an astounding $85 million this weekend, far outpacing predictions that it would do something like $55-60 million for the weekend. And add to that another $240 million the film made overseas, and you have a monster hit for Marvel that literally doubled its $165 million production cost in one week.

Even more surprising since, from what I understand, “Strange” is considered to be a second tier Marvel character with a limited fan base. But like another unexpected Marvel hit, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, despite the fact it’s not a top tier comic such as Iron Man or Thor, the film somehow gathered broad based appeal to attract even non fans.

Also, until I found the image above I had entirely forgotten that Chiwetel Ejiofor was in the film, since he was barely seen in the promotional marketing for it. And from what I understand his character, Baron Mordo, in the comic is a villain, but he’s good guy in the film. Please don’t tell me that he dies saving the life of Doctor Strange.

But the film’s big box office also proves that it was not at all affected by the controversy regarding the whitewashing of Strange’s mentor character, who’s an Asian man from Tibet in the comic. According to the filmmakers, they cast a white woman Tilda Swinton in the part because casting an Asian actor in the role looked to them like stereotyping. So let me get this straight, you insert a white actress in the role instead of an Asian actor, and think you’re making progress? They couldn’t come up with a better excuse than that? Am I missing something here? Why don’t they just admit that they just wanted a white actor in the part? Isn’t that what they do all the time?

Second place went to the Fox/Dreamworks animated film “Trolls” which did better than expected, going up against “Strange”, with $45.6 million and another $69 million million overseas.

The Mel Gibson directed WWII film “Hacksaw Ridge”, which has gotten some of the best reviews of any film this year, came in third with $14.7 million, appealing to a mainly older male audience, and which, all in all, is not bad for a film that cost just under $40 million to make. There’s been talk of the film being an Oscar contender, though the jury is still out as to whether Oscar voters have forgiven Gibson for his past transgressions.

Jeff Nichols’ “Loving” opened with $169,000 in a limited opening of just 4 screens in NY and LA, which may not sound impressive when compared to “Moonlight”, which opened on the same number of screens with over $400,000. But “Loving’s” opening number was actually the third highest opening this year so far on the same number of screens, and it had the highest per screen average this weekend with over $41,000 per screen.

Meanwhile, on the black front, Tyler Perry’s “Boo! A Madea Halloween” peaked this past week, dropping some 54%, coming in at fourth place with $7.8 million. But with almost $65 million to date and likely more to go, the film will easily wind up the second highest grossing Tyler Perry film to date. No wonder Lionsgate eagerly snatched up the distribution rights for this next two movies. They need Tyler but does Tyler need them? Perhaps he could have gotten a better deal with another distributor such as A24 or Open Road. Or why not start distributing his films himself?

And as for “Moonlight”, it continues to impress in its limited opening, expanding from 39 screens last week to 83 screens, moving up to 11th place grossing $1.3 million, making its total just over $3 million to date. A24, which is releasing the film, stated that the film is exceeding the box office pace of any previous A24 release.

This weekend top 12 grossing films below:

1) Doctor Strange BV $84,989,000
2) Trolls Fox $45,600,000
3) Hacksaw Ridge LGF $14,750,000
4) Boo! A Madea Halloween LGF $7,800,000 Total: $64,990,055
5) Inferno Sony $6,250,000 Total $26,057,930
6) The Accountant WB $5,950,000 Total $70,858,194
7) Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Par. $5,580,000 Total $49,240,000
8) Ouija: Origin of Evil Uni. $3,983,000 Total $31,372,250
9) The Girl on the Train Uni. $2,775,000 Total $70,732,365
10) Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Fox $2,100,000 Total $83,334,389
11) Moonlight A24 $1,332,414 Total $3,087,112
12) Keeping Up with the Joneses Fox $1,140,000 Total $13,355,236