By Seth Kelley
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "Doctor Strange" is doing its part to heal what has been a recent box office slump by earning $32.6 million on Friday at 3,882 locations, raising its estimated opening weekend total to about $84 million.
After earning $12.3 million on Friday at 4,060 locations, "Trolls" is also adding a boost, toying with an opening of about $44 million. Both films are leading Mel Gibson's "Hacksaw Ridge" which shot to $5.2 million on Friday at 2,886 theaters and should end up with about $14 million by the weekend's end.
"Doctor Strange," from Marvel and Disney, follows neurosurgeon Stephen Strange who injures his hands in a car accident, and in the process of healing, gains mystical powers. Scott Derrickson directs the film with a $165 million price tag. In addition to Benedict Cumberbatch as "Strange," Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tilda Swinton also star.
DreamWorks Animation's "Trolls" calls on the voices of Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick to play characters who are complete opposites, but must band together to on an adventure. Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn directed the film based on a script by Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger and Erica Rivinoja.
"Hacksaw Ridge," widely considered an Oscar contender, stars Andrew Garfield as U.S. Army medic Desmond T. Doss during World War II. The Lionsgate film was written by Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan and also stars Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington.
Another Awards Season contender, Focus Features and Universal Pictures' "Loving," from director Jeff Nichols, opened in 4 locations for a Friday total of $55,000. The film centers around the Supreme Court case that declared laws prohibiting interracial marriage unconstitutional. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga star as the central couple with supporting work from Nick Kroll and Michael Shannon.
This weekend's box office jolt is at least in part due to the critical consensus for all the major releases. "Strange" currently holds a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while "Trolls" sings 74%, "Hacksaw Ridge" shoots 84% and "Loving" embraces 89%.
The estimated weekend total would put "Doctor Strange" ahead of other Marvel film openings like "Thor" ($65.7 million) and "Ant-Man" ($57.2 million), but behind characters with higher name-recognition like 2008's "Iron Man" ($98.6 million) and, of course, films that band together multiple heroes like "Marvel's The Avengers" ($207.4 million). Within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, "Doctor Strange" is posting numbers that most closely align with 2013's "Thor: The Dark World" ($85.7 million). Last time this year the Bond film "Spectre" topped the box office with $70 million.
The next expected release in the MCU is "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which is slated for May 2017.