‘Dr Strange’ reigns but ‘Downton’ shows class

LOS ANGELES • “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” continued its domination in North American theatres this weekend, earning an estimated US$31.6 million (RM133.68 million), while the latest “Downton Abbey” came in a stately second, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations said on Sunday.

Marvel and Disney’s “Strange”, again starring the versatile Benedict Cumberbatch, has been a Covid-era star since its release three weekends ago. It has now earned US$342 million domestically and US$461 million abroad for a global total of US$803 million.

“Downton Abbey: A New Era” from Focus Features took in a solid US$16 million. Perhaps not surprising given the huge popularity of the British TV series that inspired it, but nonetheless a sign that older moviegoers — the most reluctant to return to pandemic-era theatres — are beginning to do so.

“This is a very good opening,” said David A Gross of Franchise Entertainment Research, who noted that nearly half of ticket buyers were aged 55 or older.

Writer/director Julian Fellowes, Gross said, “is the George Lucas of period English sitting-room drama”.

Most of the original Downton cast — led by Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern and Michelle Dockery — appear in the sequel, which critics have called an “affectionate group hug”.

In third place for the Friday-through-Sunday period was Universal’s animated action-comedy “The Bad Guys”. The DreamWorks Animation production, with a voice cast led by Sam Rockwell, Awkwafina and Anthony Ramos, took in US$6.1 million.

Paramount’s family-friendly “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” slipped one spot from last weekend to fourth, at US$3.9 million.

In fifth was A24’s new horror film “Men” at US$3.3 million. Directed by Alex Garland, who made “Ex Machina”, and starring Jessie Buckley, it drew a rare low D+ grade from the CinemaScore site.

Meanwhile, a pro-Donald Trump film, “2000 Mules”, earned US$765,000 to claim 11th spot.

The movie from conservative Dinesh D’Souza — who in 2018 received a pardon from Trump for a felony conviction of making illegal campaign contributions — falsely claims to offer “smoking gun” evidence of massive voter fraud in the 2020 election. — AFP