Doctor Strange sequel sets opening box office record for 2022 in Singapore

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness earned $4.31 million over the weekend. PHOTO: THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY

SINGAPORE - The first blockbuster to open in Singapore since the easing of cinema safe-distancing rules has become the highest-grossing movie of 2022 over its opening weekend.

The superhero movie Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness opened on May 4, a week after the pandemic restrictions on cinema seating was lifted on April 26. The restrictions had effectively cut seating to around 50 per cent of capacity.

On May 9, The Walt Disney Company said that the film, starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, earned $4.31 million over the weekend.

Another major superhero release, Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), however, raked in slightly more over its opening weekend, earning $4.32 million. Released Dec 16, its take came despite pandemic safe-distancing regulations, pointing to anticipation around the film, perhaps due to the rumours about the inclusion of other superheroes.

A spokesman for Shaw Theatres, which operates eight cinemas around the island, says that they are thrilled to see their halls back to full capacity.

"We are happy to see people coming back to the big screen experience, the way movies are meant to be enjoyed," he said.

The Shaw spokesman said that patrons can look forward to the release of several crowd-pleasers this year, including action films Top Gun: Maverick and Jurassic World Dominion, and the fantasy Avatar: The Way Of Water, the sequel to the box-office hit Avatar (2009).

Top Gun: Maverick had an original release date of 2020, but the distributor had withheld it from release until cinema capacity had returned to pre-pandemic levels.

A spokesman for Cathay Cineplexes, which operates eight cinemas here, says that "with the relaxation of social distancing, more people are feeling comfortable to return to the cinemas and experience movie magic on the big screen".

"It is such a positive sign for us and the entire movie industry, especially with such an exciting and long-awaited summer blockbuster season about to start."

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