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North American movie fans still have to wait a few more days to get their first look at Doctor Strange, overseas the character has already taken a bow, and if those numbers are any indication, it's going to be a big week for Marvel Studios. The film has debuted in 33 markets and has racked up $86 million in its first weekend, putting it ahead of where it was expected to land and more on par with established parts of the Marvel universe.
The major markets for Doctor Strange included the UK and Korea where the film set records for Marvel films or came close to it. While Marvel movies are always expected to do well, the early success of Doctor Strange has come as something of a surprise. The film was expected to have numbers on par with the opening weekends Ant-Man or Guardians of the Galaxy, other Marvel films which introduced characters that audiences weren't necessarily familiar with. However, when the box office is compared to the same countries and adjusted for inflation, Strange out did Ant-Man by nearly 50% and Guardians by more than 35%, according to Deadline.
Total box office receipts are expected to increase ahead of the film's release here this Friday as many international markets are seeing holidays early this week due to All Saints Day.
The reasons for the better than expected numbers are hard to guess this early, though much of the credit is being given to the film's lead, Benedict Cumberbatch. The actor has become popular around the world in recent years on the heels of his turn on the BBC's Sherlock. The show is a hit in many countries, making the actor popular all over the world. Beyond the man himself, the fact that Doctor Strange looks to be offering a very different look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe, through a unique visual style, may also be attracting fans who want to be sure to see the film in all its grandeur on the big screen.
In North America, Doctor Strange has been projected to have a $75 million opening weekend, which would put it slightly behind the $85 million that Thor: The Dark World saw when it was released in the fall of 2013. However, if the international take is any indication, Strange may see a box office that is more on par with Dark World, meaning Doctor Strange could see a bump of nearly $10 million by the end of next weekend.
November has been the home of some major studio releases so it's unlikely Doctor Strange will break any records for the month. Films in the Hunger Games, Twilight, and Harry Potter franchise all own records above $100 million. Marvel may not be looking to tread new ground, but they're certainly set up for a big weekend.