Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness Image Credit: Marvel Studios

Doctor Strange and his multiverse got to linger a little longer atop the weekend box office as Tom Cruise and ‘Top Gun’ wait in the wings.

Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’, out in UAE cinemas, was the top-earning film of the weekend for the third straight week, bringing in $31.6 million in 4,534 North American theatres, according to studio estimates released Sunday.

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Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, Benedict Wong as Wong, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange/Stephen Strange in Marvel Studios' DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo by Jay Maidment. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved. Image Credit: AP

That storm will come in the form of the long-awaited, and long-delayed, release of ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ the sequel that arrives next week on the US Memorial Day weekend, 36 years after the original smash hit and cultural landmark.

It flies in amid sky-high hype.

“The marketing for this movie has really been going on for about three years.” Dergarabedian said. “That’s a pretty long runway to guild up excitement.”

Cruise had the film festival in Cannes, France, abuzz on Wednesday with a whirlwind appearance for the film’s European premiere that included a fly over of French fighter jets and an honorary Palme d’Or award.

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Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick from Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films. Image Credit: AP

‘Top Gun’ represents two seemingly fading phenomena — the major movie star and the big-screen-only experience, for which Cruise has been a tireless ambassador. And the industry is hoping they will help bring a more familiar summer for theaters.

“This is going to be one of the most important Memorial Day weekends ever, considering what the stakes are,” Dergarabedian said. “We didn’t have a traditional summer movie season for two years.”

Before the pandemic, the summer box office season generally brought in more than $4 billion annually. After an essentially non-existent 2020, the 2021 take, in a year of recovery, was $1.75 billion. This year’s crop of films, which also includes ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ and ‘Thor: Love and Thunder,’ could double that, Dergarabedian said.

Jurassic World Dominion Image Credit: IMDb

But while the world waits, ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ crossed the $800 million mark in global grosses, surpassing ‘The Batman’ to become the top-grossing film of the year.

Released by the Walt Disney Co. and directed by Sam Raimi, ‘Doctor Strange 2’ benefitted from being the first Marvel movie to follow ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home,’ in which Benedict Cumberbatch’s sorcerer played a pivotal role.

It also builds upon the popular Disney+ series ‘Wandavision’ and contains a number of cameos that fans didn’t want to be spoiled.