'Strange' remains atop box office as 'Top Gun' looms
LOS ANGELES -- 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" was the top-earning film of the weekend for the third straight week, bringing in $31.6 million in 4,534 North American theaters, according to studio estimates released Sunday.
"Downtown Abbey: A New Era" made a strong opening showing for Focus Features with $16 million from 3,820 theaters, but there has been no real blockbuster competition for "Doctor Strange."
"This film has had a pretty wide open marketplace," said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. "This weekend really is, this is the proverbial calm before the storm."
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 Memorial Day weekend, 36 years after the original smash hit and cultural landmark.
"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.
"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.
"This is going to be one of the most important Memorial Day weekends ever, considering what the stakes are," Dergarabedian said.