"Doctor Strange" hit theaters at 7 tonight -- for about 15 minutes.
Marvel Studios' sneak peak "Expand Your Mind: An IMAX 3D Exclusive First Look" showcased 15 minutes of exclusive "Doctor Strange" footage in more than 115 North American theaters, including the AMC Loews Waterfront (as seen in the screen above).
The Game Guy, Max Parker, and I joined a few dozen others excited to see the magic happen -- or to see Benedict Cumberbatch. At least one person there was wearing an "I AM SHER-LOCKED" T-shirt. I'm with her, but I like my Marvel comic-book movies, too.
In a statement, director Scott Derrickson says, "As a movie fan, I am thrilled to take audiences along on the visual journey of 'Doctor Strange' and give them an early peek at what we've been working on. The completed film will feature more than an hour of specially formatted IMAX sequences that will provide audiences with a totally immersive — and mind-blowing — filmgoing experience, and I'm excited to share a taste of that with our fans on 10/10."
After collecting our poster and 3D glasses, we sat down to see Cumberbatch -- as himself -- appear onscreen to introduce the footage. In his minute of air time, he perform a little magic trick: As he moved his hands apart, the screen expanded upward. "Cool," as he put it.
I admit trepidation -- I was wondering how I would buy the oh-so-British Cumberbatch as a wisecracking American named Steve (Dr. Stephen Strange). It was a little disconcerting to hear him rattling off pop culture names to ... Benedict Wong, who plays Wong. Honest. He's nothing like the Wong of the comic books, who is Strange's manservant. Here, he's seen as a tough librarian who will teach this Strange upstart a few lessons.
Oscar winner Chiwetel Ejiofor, who was a slave to Cumberbatch's plantation owner in "12 Years a Slave," here plays Baron Mondo, a villainous rival to Doctor Strange in the comic books but here, seen as a sidekick in a multiverse war against Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius.
In the 15 minutes, we see most of Doctor Strange's origin story. Arrogant surgeon with love interest Rachel McAdams who gets into a car accident that ruins his life -- until he goes to the mysterious enclave known as Kamar-Taj, where he becomes a student of the Tibetan sorcerer known as the Ancient One, played by a bald Tilda Swinton.
A major portion of the footage was reserved for special effects. Think of the mind-bending cityscapes of "Inception" and the psychedelic dreamscapes of the "The Fountain," all in kinetic flux, and you get the picture. It was eye-popping and certainly "cool," as Cumberbatch said, and certainly a lure for the full-length movie due to be released Nov. 4.
Before the screening, there was an announcement to check out the website http://marvelstudiosheroacts.com/#/, where a video of Cumberbatch, standing in the same brick-lined room where he shot the aforementioned intro, announces a global initiative to boost childhood education through the charity Save the Children.
Marvel Studios Hero Acts asks you to upload a photo of yourself in your favorite Marvel superhero pose on the website and share it on social media with the hashtags #marvelstudios #heroacts, and Marvel will donate $5 for each post, up to $1 million through the end of the year.