The two sides of ‘Doctor Strange 2’ sweeping the box office and why its premiere on Disney + should wait

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The two sides of 'Doctor Strange 2' sweeping the box office and why its premiere on Disney + should wait

The evolution of the film industry over the last decade has been marked, mainly, by two major elements. The first of these is the emergence and growth of some streaming platforms that have completely changed consumption habits in favor of the sofa and the blanket, while the second is the boom of the franchised blockbusterled by the Marvel Studios macroproject and its Cinematic Universe.

This pair of keys have made the future of the current box office extremely easy to predict and, as a last sample, we have the unsurprising —and still stratospheric— data of ‘Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness’. The last film of the MCU, in its opening weekend, amassed 5.65 million euros, taking more than 77% of the pie distributed among the 20 most watched titleswhich added a total of 7.3 million.

This phenomenon, in which a single blockbuster based on an IP —or, hopefully, two if their releases overlap— outshines the rest of its competitors on the bill, including lesser media caliber news, can seem catastrophic and dishearteningbut it is far from being a question of absolutes and opens the door to a reflection marked by chiaroscuro in which there are neither heroes nor villains.

both sides of the truth

Figures like those mentioned above, and that become more difficult to digest when we look at the fact that ‘Red Rocket’ is the only premiere that slipped into the Top 20 along with ‘Doctor Strange 2’ with a devastating 19,000 euros, reinforce the theory that ensures that, in the short term, movie theaters will become spaces dedicated entirely to projecting what are known as “event films”.

Without going any further, the film directed by Sam Raimi occupied during its premiere Thursday in the city of New York a whopping 70 projections in cinemas such as the AMC in Times Square, spaced between times that ranged between five and thirty minutes. Something that was repeated in other facilities of the chain and that leads us directly to one of the main fears of those who perceive this as a threat.

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Screenings of ‘Doctor Strange 2’ at the AMC in Times Square | Via @mattsinger (Twitter)

This is none other than the progressive disappearance in the traditional exhibition of independent works or directed to targets more specific and less massive and even products from large studios with more risky profiles. Without going any further bumps not as severe as that of ‘The Northman’, which has raised some discreet 2.4 million dollars in Spain and 52 worldwide on a budget estimated at 90 despite having the support of a studio like Universal and a media cast, invite, at least, to raise an eyebrow with distrust.

However, as someone who increasingly enjoys that so-called “other cinema” alien to the great machinery and inclined to garner more praise at festivals than on the commercial circuit —and whoever knows me will know that, equally, I don’t disgust a good blockbuster—, I think I can assure you that, in a way, we can rest easy.

To the parrot, we are not so bad

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Yes; Pieces like ‘Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness’ minimize the impact of smaller productions —and that, equally, their potential audience will not ignore— and they can convey the feeling that they are doing the seventh art a disservice. Seeing prestigious titles, praised by critics and respectable festival-goers, buried under pre-cooked narratives and Hollywood marketing has spent decades souring the character of the most purists but, as with almost everything in this life, there is a positive side.

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On the one hand, thanks to the endless queues and excessive collections, movie theaters they can afford not only to continue subsisting, but also afford to continue including alternatives in their programming. Without going any further, beyond the multiplexes, temples with a single screen such as the Phenomena in Barcelona have the luxury of making cycles with classics or alternatives outside the present —which always rules— thanks to the work and grace of the block buster shift. Even in the marquee of the Verdi cinemas, champions of auteur cinema, it is not surprising to see the superhero, the magician, or the action hero of the day.

On the other hand, whether we like it or not, these multimillion-dollar films conceived to destroy the box office are one of the strongest pillars of the industry. Okay, we can swear – and with some reason – about feature films like ‘Venom’ or its sequel, but it is possible that the 856 and 506 million that were pocketed – to give a couple of examples – allow Sony produce, even through its sub-labels, films with a higher creative and commercial risk that, with a bit of luck, will end up being projected on the big screen and not relegated to the bottom of the catalog of some streaming platform, converted into plain and simple “content”.

The sofa factor

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Of course, talk about video on demand and from Marvel Studios leads us to automatically think of the premiere strategy of the MCU movies on Disney +. A tactic that currently consists of improvising on the fly based on the box office trend of its screening products and that, playing devil’s advocate, makes all the sense in the world.

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Almost by magic -and by the fervor of the fandom and the great publicity campaigns-, bombshells like ‘Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness’ are destined to enjoy a much longer than average traditional display lifewhich translates into a vastly higher return than would be achieved by subscriptions to a service after a move to the small screen after a window of, say, 45 days.

Everything that has been exposed so far leads us to the conclusion that the cinema and the market model that we believe to be on the verge of extinction remain afloat despite the fact that there is less and less oxygen in an unsaturated market, but one that is dominated by capes, masks and titles with already two-digit numbers —there is ‘Fast & Furious’ in the middle of filming its tenth installment—. Ultimately, it’s a much less apocalyptic snake-biting-its-tail scenario than some want to sell and that reminds us that, as the Pythons sang, we must look at the bright side of life.

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