NEW YORK (AP) — Phase five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe may have got 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, the studio estimated Sunday, far surpassing the box office debuts of the previous two Ant-Man films. Walt Disney Co.’s “Quantumania” 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 uncharacteristically poor reception for the 31st MCU film. Starring Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly as Wasp and Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror, Quantumania has a 48% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the only MCU film to rank alongside Eternals (47%).
Audiences weren’t thrilled with “Quantumania” either, giving it a “B” CinemaScore. Eternals is the only other MCU film to have received such a low CinemaScore.
These results will be of the greatest concern to Marvel as it continues to roll out phase five of the MCU after receiving mixed reviews for the comic franchise’s fourth phase after Avengers: Endgame. Next up is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in May.
But good reviews or not, cinemas are hoping Quantumania – the year’s first blockbuster – is a portent of things to come. After the turbulence of the last three years, around 30 more wide releases are planned for 2023.
“In terms of the market, it’s going to feel almost like a pre-pandemic movie theater in the coming weeks,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at data company Comscore. “This is very good news after the very turbulent last two or three years. This is the start of many great months for this industry. We were sort of in the waiting room with leftovers like ‘Avatar’ and others.”
The first Ant-Man launched in 2015 at $57.2 million domestically, the smallest premiere for a film in the MCU. It ultimately earned $519.3 million worldwide. The sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, debuted three years later at $75.8 million and has grossed $622.7 million worldwide.
China was key to both releases, each topping $100 million there. But in recent years, particularly during the pandemic, fewer American films have secured major releases in the heavily regulated Chinese market. No Disney release has opened simultaneously in the US and China since Avengers: Endgame in 2019.
However, whether China will ever return to those pre-pandemic numbers for US films remains to be seen — especially as tensions over China’s balloon surveillance program continue to fester. Quantumania grossed $19 million in China over the weekend.
On its 10th weekend of release, James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” stayed in second place with $6.4 million. At $2.243 billion worldwide, Cameron’s sci-fi sequel just surpassed Cameron’s own film Titanic – currently in its 25th. Now only 2009’s Avatar and Avengers: Endgame rank above The Way of Water.
Last week’s top movie, Magic Mike’s Last Dance, slipped to third place with $5.5 million. Channing Tatum’s sequel has grossed $18.1 million in two weeks.
Fourth place went to Universal’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, which has enjoyed an unusually long run as the best family option in theaters since late December. With $5.3 million over the weekend, it has totaled $167 million domestically and more than $400 million worldwide.
Only one new film has been released against Quantumania. Open Road and Briarcliff Entertainment debuted 2,281 Venues with “Marlowe,” in which Liam Neeson played the classic Raymond Chandler private investigator. However, “Marlowe” only grossed $1.9 million.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday in US and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. The final domestic figures will be released on Monday.
1. “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”, $104 million.
2. “Avatar: The Way of Water,” $6.1 million.
3. “Magic Mike’s Last Dance”, $5.5 million.
4. “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” $5.3 million.
5. “Knock at the Cabin”, $3.9 million.
6. “80 for Brady,” $3.6 million.
7. “Titanic”, $2.3 million.
8. “Marlowe”, $1.9 million.
9. “Missing,” $1.7 million.
10. “A Man Called Otto,” $1.6 million.
This story has been corrected to correct the placements of Magic Mike’s Last Dance and Puss Boots: The Last Wish, which were originally swapped. It also fixes the name of Avengers: Endgame.
Follow AP film writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP