By Jake Coyle | Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe may have gotten off to a rocky start, but Ant-Man is bigger than ever at the box office.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” opened with $104 million in domestic ticket sales, according to studio estimates on Sunday, easily surpassing the box-office debuts of the previous two Ant-Man films. “Quantumania” by The Walt Disney Co. added another $121.3 million overseas to give the little hero a $225 million worldwide launch.
It is by far the biggest opening of the year so far. And “Quantumania” did so despite an atypically poor reception for the 31st MCU movie. “Quantumania,” starring Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp, and Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror, is at 48% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the only MCU movie to rank rotten next to “The Eternals” (47%).
Audiences weren’t thrilled with “Quantumania” either, giving it a “B” CinemaScore. “The Eternals” is the only other MCU movie to receive such a low CinemaScore.
Those scores will be the main concern for Marvel as it continues to roll out phase five of the MCU, following mixed reviews for the post-“Avengers: Eternals” phase four of the comic book franchise. Next up is “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” in May.
But good reviews or not, theaters are hoping that “Quantumania” – the first blockbuster of the year – is a sign of things to come. After the turmoil of the last three years, another 30 or so wide releases are planned for 2023.
“It will almost feel like a pre-pandemic movie theater environment in terms of the market for the next few weeks,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for data firm Comscore. “That is very good news after a very tumultuous past two, three years. This is the start of a great many months for this industry. We’ve sort of been sitting in the waiting room with leftovers like ‘Avatar’ and others.”
The first “Ant-Man” launched in 2015 with $57.2 million domestically, the smallest opening for any film in the MCU. It ended up making $519.3 million worldwide. The sequel, “Ant-Man and the Wasp”, debuted three years later with $75.8 million and grossed $622.7 million worldwide.
China was vital for both releases, with over $100 million each made there. But in recent years, especially during the pandemic, fewer American films have landed major releases in the heavily regulated Chinese market. Not since ‘Avengers: Endgame’ in 2019 has a Disney release opened simultaneously in the US and China.
Whether China will ever return to those pre-pandemic numbers for American films, however, remains to be seen — especially as tensions continue to mount over China’s balloon surveillance program. “Quantumania” raked in $19 million in China this weekend.
In its 10th weekend of release, James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” remained in second place with $6.4 million. With $2.243 billion worldwide, Cameron’s sci-fi sequel “Titanic” – currently back in theaters for its 25th anniversary – has now just overtaken it as the third-highest-grossing film ever. Now only 2009’s ‘Avatar’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame’ rank higher than ‘The Way of Water’.
In third place was Universal’s “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” which has been running in theaters for an unusually long time since late December as the top family option. At $5.3 over the weekend, it totals $167 million domestically and more than $400 million worldwide.
Last week’s top movie, “Magic Mike’s Last Dance,” dropped to fourth place with $5.5 million. The Channing Tatum sequel has grossed $18.1 million in two weeks.
Only one new movie was released widely against ‘Quantumania’. Open Road and Briarcliff Entertainment debuted “Marlowe,” with Liam Neeson playing Raymond Chandler’s classic private investigator, in 2,281 locations. However, “Marlowe” only grossed $1.9 million.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday in U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore, with Wednesday through Sunday in parentheses. Final domestic figures will be released on Monday.
- “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” $104 million.
- “Avatar: The Way of Water”, $6.1 million.
- “Magic Mike’s Last Dance”, $5.5 million.
- “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”, $5.3 million.
- “Knock at the Cabin”, $3.9 million.
- “80 for Brady”, $3.6 million.
- “Titanic”, $2.3 million.
- “Marlowe,” $1.9 million.
- “Missing,” $1.7 million.
- “A man called Otto”, $1.6 million.
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