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. The Walt Disney Co.’s “Quantumania” added an additional $121.3 million overseas to give the pint-sized hero a $225 million global launch.
This is by far the biggest opening of the year so far. And ‘Quantumania’ did it despite an atypically poor reception for the 31st MCU film.. “Quantumania,” starring Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly as Wasp and Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror, is 48% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the only MCU movie to rank as rotten next to “Eternals” (47%).
Audiences were also not thrilled with “Quantumania”, giving it a “B” CinemaScore. “Eternals” is the only other MCU film to receive such a low CinemaScore.
These scores will pose the greatest concern for Marvel as it continues to roll out Phase Five of the MCU, following mixed reviews for the comic book franchise’s post-“Avengers: Endgame” Phase Four. Next up is “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” in May.
But good reviews or not, theaters are hoping “Quantumania” – the year’s first blockbuster – is a sign of things to come. After the turmoil of the last three years, around thirty larger releases are planned for 2023.
“It will almost look in the coming weeks like a pre-pandemic movie environment in terms of the market,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for data firm Comscore. “This is very good news after two or three very tumultuous years. This is the start of many months for this industry. We’ve kind of been in the waiting room with leftovers like ‘Avatar’ and others.
The first “Ant-Man” opened with $57.2 million domestically in 2015, the lowest opening of any MCU film. It eventually grossed $519.3 million worldwide. Its sequel, “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” debuted three years later with $75.8 million and collected $622.7 million worldwide.
China was vital for both of these releases, each exceeding $100 million there. But in recent years, especially during the pandemic, fewer American films have gotten major releases in the heavily regulated Chinese market. Not since 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame” has a Disney release opened simultaneously in the United States and China.
Whether China will ever return to those pre-pandemic numbers for American films remains to be seen, however – especially as tensions continue to escalate over China’s balloon surveillance program. “Quantumania” grossed $19 million this weekend in China.
In its 10th weekend of release, James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” remained in second place with $6.4 million. Grossing $2.243 billion worldwide, Cameron’s sci-fi sequel just overtook Cameron’s own ‘Titanic’ – currently returning to theaters on its 25th anniversary – as the third highest-grossing film of all time. . Now only “Avatar” and 2009’s “Avengers: Endgame” rank above “The Way of Water.”
Last week’s best movie, “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” slipped to third place with $5.5 million. Channing Tatum’s sequel grossed $18.1 million in two weeks.
Puss in Boots: Universal’s Last Wish landed in fourth place, which has enjoyed an unusually long run in theaters as the best family option since late December. With $5.3 million over the weekend, it grossed $167 million domestically and over $400 million worldwide.
Only one new movie was released on a large scale against “Quantumania”. Open Road and Briarcliff Entertainment released “Marlowe,” featuring Liam Neeson playing Raymond Chandler’s classic private eye, in 2,281 locations. “Marlowe,” however, only raked in $1.9 million.
Estimated Friday-Sunday ticket sales at US and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final national figures will be released on Monday.
1. “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” $104 million.
2. “Avatar: The Way of the 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 the Booth,” $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 Named Otto,” $1.6 million.
This story has been edited to correct the rankings for “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” and “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”, which were originally transposed. It also corrects the name of “Avengers: Endgame”.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP