Weekend Box Office Forecast: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Will Have No Trouble Extinguishing Hybrid Release Firestarter

Photo Credits: Disney & Marvel Studios ("Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness"); Universal ("Firestarter")

Thursday Update: Forecasts for Firestarter have been revised downward in the range and chart below. All other forecasts reflect prior Wednesday modeling.

Wednesday Report: Summer box office is back, as demonstrated by Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘ $187.4 million domestic bow last weekend. Where one tradition has picked up again in the form of a Marvel film kicking off this lucrative season, so to does another over the coming frame: an off-week for major studio releases.

Allowing some space for the good Doctor to breathe in its sophomore frame, the lone wide opener will hail from Universal Pictures and Blumhouse in the form of Firestarter. A remake of Stephen King’s novel previously adapted for the big screen in 1984, the film is employing what seems to be an increasingly rare tactic in recent months: a hybrid release strategy.

Firestarter will open in theaters and stream on Peacock on the same day, and given the lack of marketing muscle for the film, confidence in box office performance seems quite low. That’s rare to say about a Universal/Blumhouse collaboration with a prolific name such as King and his 1980 novel, but such is the case here. This latest take on the IP has generated minimal social impact, while pre-sales are moving at a snail’s pace.

There could be an opening for last-minute interest in the film given the nature of horror titles to often peak at the eleventh hour, but chances of that scenario happening aren’t high. The film has yet to receive any reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and its genre comes into direct competition with the mystical Doctor Strange sequel itself.

Speaking of the MCU blockbuster, we can safely expect a sharp drop in its second frame due to the front-loaded nature of the series and $36 million worth of Thursday previews being included with last weekend’s debut. The best reference point at this stage is Captain America: Civil War, which declined 59.5 percent in May 2016 after coming off a Mother’s Day weekend release — the same situation Multiverse of Madness is in.

Adding to expectations for a slightly sharper drop for Strange is the fact that the film, as forecast, seems somewhat divisive among the broader MCU audience thanks to it significant lean into horror and camp elements.

Nevertheless, Multiverse boasts a respectable 87 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, so it clearly has enough support to remain the main box office draw over the next couple of weeks before Top Gun: Maverick arrives for Memorial Day weekend. The 28th MCU chapter is on course to finish north of $400 million domestically, with a trajectory currently pointing to around $420 million.

As for the rest of the market, most films should see stabilizing holds after being hit by Marvel madness last weekend, although titles inflated by Mother’s Day on Sunday will see some leveling off of that brief inflation.

Everything Everywhere All at Once is notably expanding again to approximately 1,900 locations per Showtimes Dashboard estimates, while Roadside Attractions is openin gFamily Camp at a projected 1,000 venues with hopes of drawing faith-based families via grassroots marketing.

Opening Weekend Ranges

Opening Weekend Range: $3 — 7 million

Family Camp
Opening Weekend Range: $1 — 3 million

Weekend Forecast & Location Count Projections

Boxoffice projects a 52 to 55 percent decline for this weekend’s top ten films from last weekend’s $220.3 million top ten aggregate. 

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, May 15 Location Count Projection (as of Wednesday) % Change from Last Wknd
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Disney & Marvel Studios $68,600,000 $298,900,000 ~4,534 -63%
The Bad Guys Universal Pictures & DreamWorks Animation $7,400,000 $66,700,000 ~3,700 -23%
Firestarter Universal Pictures $5,300,000 $5,300,000 ~3,300 NEW
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Paramount Pictures $4,900,000 $176,100,000 ~3,200 -19%
Everything Everywhere All at Once A24 $3,300,000 $47,000,000 ~1,900 -6%
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore Warner Bros. Pictures $3,100,000 $90,800,000 ~2,700 -27%
Family Camp Roadside Attractions $2,400,000 $2,400,000 ~1,000 NEW
The Lost City Paramount Pictures $2,200,000 $97,700,000 ~1,700 -20%
The Northman Focus Features $2,100,000 $31,600,000 ~2,000 -27%
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Lionsgate $1,000,000 $18,200,000 ~1,200 -37%

*All forecasts are subject to revision before the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.

Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studiosThe above table does not necessarily represent the top ten as some studios do not finalize weekend location counts and/or an intent to report box office returns prior to publishing.

Photo Credits: Disney & Marvel Studios ("Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness"); Universal ("Firestarter")

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