Various incarnations of a Doctor Strange film were in development from the mid-1980s until Paramount Pictures acquired the film rights in April 2005 on behalf of Marvel Studios. Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer were brought in in June 2010 to write a screenplay. In June 2014, Derrickson and Spaihts were hired to direct and re-write the film, respectively.
Cumberbatch was cast in the eponymous role in December 2014, necessitating a schedule change to work around his other commitments. This gave Derrickson time to work on the script himself, for which he brought in Cargill to help. The film began principal photography in November 2015 in Nepal before moving to the UK, Hong Kong, and concluded in New York in April 2016.