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Doctor Strange' Opens Huge

Doctor Strange opened to an even better-than-expected $85 million from 3,882 theaters at the North American box office, further expanding Marvel Studios and Disney’s superhero universe and putting the movie’s early global total at a magical $325.4 million.

Overseas, it earned another $118.7 million this weekend for a foreign cume of $240.4 million (it began rolling out in select foreign markets more than a week ago.)

Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the lesser-known superhero Stephen Strange, gives Disney five of the 10 top openings of 2016 so far, and is another coup for Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige and Disney’s marketing team. Also, it beat the first installments in the Thor, Captain America and Ant-Man franchises.

In the film, Cumberbatch plays a top surgeon who, after his hands are injured in a car accident, seeks out the help of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), a master of the mystical arts. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams also star in Doctor Strange, which marks the biggest domestic opening for all four actors. It cost $165 million to produce.

Doctor Strange, boasting glowing reviews and an A CinemaScore, wasn’t the weekend’s only success story in a needed morale boost for Hollywood after revenue tumbled 10 percent in September and October. Animated event film Trolls and Mel Gibson’s tough World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge came in on the high end expectations after likewise scoring strong reviews and A CinemaScores.

DreamWorks Animation and Fox’s Trolls took second place with $45.6 million from 4,060 theaters. Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick star in the animated musical, based on the classic children’s doll. Timberlake served as an executive producer of the soundtrack, which includes his original hit song “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”

Hacksaw Ridge followed in third place with $14.8 million from 2,886 theaters, a solid start for a tough, R-rated war film. And it’s Gibson’s first directorial outing since Apocalypto a decade ago (that movie debuted to $15 million).

Hoping to win over both Oscar voter and faith-based moviegoers, Hacksaw Ridge stars Andrew Garfield as a U.S. Army medic who became the first conscientious objector in history to win the medal of honor after staying behind and saving more than 75 lives, despite refusing to take up arms because of his religious beliefs.

The $40 million was financed independently before Lionsgate picked up U.S. rights.

As awards season intensifies, Focus Features debuted Jeff Nichols’ interracial drama Loving in four theaters in Los Angeles and New York. The movie posted the top theater average of the weekend, or an estimated $48,750.

Loving stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as married couple Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and a black woman, who spent nine years fighting for the right to live in Virginia before the U.S. Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling, invalidated state laws forbidding interracial marriages.

Elsewhere at the specialty box office, A24’s awards contender Moonlight continued to impress when expanding into a total of 83 theaters in its weekend. The movie moved up the chart to No. 11, grossing $1.3 million for a theater average of $16,053 — one of the best of the weekend — and domestic total of $3.1 million.

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