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Box Office: ‘Doctor Strange’ Conjures $9.4 Million on Thursday Night

Marvel-Disney’s “Doctor Strange” has launched with a powerful $9.4 million in North America in Thursday night showings.

Doctor Strange” dominated Thursday night moviegoing as the launches of DreamWorks Animation’s “Trolls” generated $900,000 for Fox, and Mel Gibson’s World War II drama “Hacksaw Ridge” took in $750,000 at over 2,200 North American locations for Lionsgate.

The Marvel film opened ahead of Thursday night numbers for “X-Men: Apocalypse” ($8.2 million) and “Thor: the Dark World” ($7.1 million).

“Doctor Strange,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, has been forecast to open to at least $70 million for the weekend as it debuts across 3,882 locations in the U.S. That’s higher than the openings of three other Marvel titles that introduced a character — “Ant-Man” ($57.2 million), “Thor” ($65.7 million), and “Captain America: The First Avenger” ($65 million). It also will probably top the $70 million taken in by the Bond film “Spectre,” starring Daniel Craig, which opened on the same weekend a year ago.

For Cumberbatch, “Doctor Strange” is his first move into superhero turf. Reviews for the film have been sterling with a current 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film topped the foreign box office last weekend with $87.7 million and is expanding this weekend to 94% of the international market as it adds Russia, China and Brazil. It’s topped $133 million as of Thursday from international markets.

“Doctor Strange” also stars Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Tilda Swinton, and is directed by Scott Derrickson (“Sinister”). It follows a brilliant surgeon who turns to mysticism following a devastating car accident.

“Doctor Strange” will screen across 3,530 3-D locations, including 379 Imax screens. The film carries a $165 million price tag.

Trolls,” a big screen adventure based on the popular toyline, is eyeing a $38 million debut when it bows on 4,060 locations. The film should get a lift from the inclusion of the Justin Timberlake song “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” Timberlake also voices one of the lead characters, along with Anna Kendrick.

In the film, the happy-go-lucky life of the Trolls is upended after a group of large creatures invades their land. The film has a $125 million production budget.

Lionsgate’s release of “Hacksaw Ridge” will expand Friday to 2,886 North American sites.  The film is a World War II drama about a conscientious objector (Andrew Garfield) who won the Medal of Honor for his work as a medic during the Battle of Okinawa.

The film premiered to a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival and has generated stellar reviews with 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. “Hacksaw Ridge” should open to about $12 million this weekend.

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