Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Cost Almost $300 Million Before Marketing


It's no secret that blockbuster comic book movies are not cheap to make. But things have really started to escalate in that department, particularly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The only movie post-"Avengers: Endgame" to have a production budget of less than $200 million was "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" ($150 million), for example. But it turns out that one of Marvel Studios' biggest hits in recent memory, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," was actually far more expensive than anyone imagined.

According to a recent report from Forbes, director Sam Raimi's "Doctor Strange" sequel actually cost a great deal more than its originally reported $200 million budget. To be clear, $200 million is still an incredibly expensive movie. Thanks to recently disclosed financial statements covering the film's production in the U.K., it was revealed that the actual budget was damn near an eye-melting $300 million. As per the report:

Disney had set up a company named Supreme Works Productions 2 in the U.K. for the film, and that same company was reimbursed the $54.5 million as part of the country's tax incentive program to lure film productions there. Even with that reimbursement, this now ranks as the most expensive, non-"Avengers" film in the history of the MCU by a considerable margin. In fairness, though, "Multiverse of Madness" had to contend with an awful lot on its way to the big screen.

An example of a massive industry-wide problem

For one, original director Scott Derrickson departed "Multiverse of Madness" well into pre-production after creative differences emerged, paving the way for "Spider-Man" director Sam Raimi to take over. Several writers turned in multiple drafts of the script, and much changed along the way. Most crucially, the film had to contend with filming during the pandemic, which certainly didn't help matters any when it came to cutting costs. So yes, an inflated budget was to be expected.

That having been said, $295 million is getting into downright irresponsible territory. Sure, it panned out in this case, as the film earned $955 million worldwide, becoming easily one of the biggest hits of 2022 overall. Even so, with a budget that high — which doesn't even account for a marketing spend that was probably somewhere in the $150 million range — Disney's profits were not nearly as high as they should be for a movie that made nearly $1 billion at the box office. That's the real problem.

Unfortunately, it's a problem we're seeing far too much of lately. Disney was on the wrong end of this again recently with "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny," which also carries an absurd $295 million budget (although that film will not make nearly enough at the box office to bail itself out). Other 2023 blockbusters such as "Fast X" ($340 million), "Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One" ($290 million), and "The Little Mermaid" ($250 million), just to name a few, are hitting theaters with prohibitively big budgets. For the overall health of the movie business, this simply cannot continue. Yes, the MCU is a hit-making machine, but it's not as infallible as it once was. Allowing budgets to balloon like this is a fast track to disaster.

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