‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ Has Box Office Buzzing With $120 Million Debut Over President’s Day Weekend

Disney’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” buzzed to $120 million at the domestic box office, beating expectations and scoring by far the biggest opening weekend in the pint-sized Marvel trilogy.

The superhero adventure, starring Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly as the titular heroes, brought in $105 million from 4,345 North American theaters over the traditional weekend and finished the President’s Day holiday frame with $120 million. It’s the first $100 million domestic debut of 2023. The film added $121 million at the international box office, bringing its global tally to $225 million. “Quantumania” failed to live up to expectations in China, sputtering with $19.2 million.

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“’Ant-Man’ is the first new Hollywood blockbuster out of the gate in 2023,” says Imax’s CEO Rich Gelfond, noting that $24 million came from the company’s premium-format screens.

Though the threequel landed the worst reviews of the series (and some of the harshest in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe), “Quantumania” got a huge jump on its predecessors, surging past the openings of 2015’s “Ant-Man” ($57 million) and 2018’s sequel “Ant-Man and the Wasp” ($76 million). Critical sentiment rarely matters for opening weekends of Marvel movies, but word-of-mouth could have an impact on ticket sales in the coming weeks. In addition to its bleak 49% average on Rotten Tomatoes, audiences saddled the film with a “B” CinemaScore.

“‘Ant-Man’ isn’t among the top Marvel series, and reviews and audience scores are uncharacteristically soft, but this is excellent business and a big step up for the title,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research.

Even with its four-day holiday total, the comic book story centered on Rudd’s subatomic-sized hero isn’t expected to match its towering Marvel counterparts, which traditionally power to the mightiest of the mighty opening weekends. Previous sequels in the sprawling Marvel series, including “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” ($185 million to start), “Thor: Love and Thunder” ($144 million) and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” ($181 million), started stronger and eventually earned upwards of $750 million to $950 million globally.

The first “Ant-Man” and its 2018 sequel, which may serve as better points of comparison for “Quantumania,” tapped out with $519 million and $622 million worldwide, respectively. The tiniest Avenger may be small, but the third chapter still looks to be mighty. Based on opening weekend returns, the newest “Ant-Man” entry is expected to end its box office run with the biggest receipts in the trilogy.

That’s a good sign because the latest “Ant-Man” adventure has the lofty responsibility of kicking off Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It continues with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3″ on May 5, followed by the newly delayed “The Marvels” on Nov. 10. Peyton Reed directed “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” the 31st installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film, which introduces Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror, the heir apparent to the villainous Thanos, also stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglass and Kathryn Newton as Ant-Man and company are transported to the mysterious Quantum Realm — which defies the laws of space and time — to save the planet from forces of evil.

“This opening definitely reflects interest in where the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going now that Jonathan Majors’ Kang has been fully introduced and there’s a definitive anchor around him and the multiverse,” says Shawn Robbins, the chief analyst at BoxOfficePro. “It’ll be interesting to see if there’s positive goodwill spillover onto MCU films that don’t directly involve him in the immediate future. But this feels like a long-awaited step forward for fans waiting to see certain storytelling promises take shape in the post-‘Endgame’ era.”

“Ant-Man 3” topped box office charts over another otherworldly adventure. James Cameron’s enduring blockbuster “Avatar: The Way of Water,” stayed in second place in its 10th weekend of release, adding $6.4 million over the weekend and $7.88 million through Monday from 2,675 theaters. To date, the sci-fi sequel has generated $658 million in North America, overtaking 2015’s “Jurassic World” as the ninth-biggest movie in domestic box office history. Over the weekend, “The Way of Water” crossed $2.2433 billion globally, enough to overtake “Titanic” ($2.2428 billion) as the third-highest grossing movie of all time.

At No. 3, Universal’s animated sequel “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” has also remained surprisingly strong, bringing in $5.3 million over the weekend and $7 million through Monday from 3,012 locations. The film, set in the “Shrek” universe,” opened in theaters in December and has amassed $167 million in North America and a huge $400 million globally.

Last weekend’s champ “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” dropped to fourth place, raking in $5.46 million over the weekend and $6.2 million through Monday from 3,034 theaters. After two weeks of release, the third “Magic Mike,” led by Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek, has grossed $18.85 million. The Warner Bros. release, which was crafted for HBO Max but was later given an exclusive theatrical run, cost nearly $50 million to produce.

Universal’s “Knock at the Cabin” rounded out the top five with $3.9 million over the weekend and $4.59 million through Monday from 2,601 cinemas. The latest psychological thriller from M. Night Shyamalan has generated $31 million to date.

Only one movie, Liam Neeson’s crime thriller “Marlowe,” was brave enough to open against “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” The film, from Open Road and Briarcliff Entertainment, barely cracked the top 10, landing in ninth place with a dismal $1.9 million over the weekend and $3 million through Monday from 2,281 locations.

Neeson’s latest action films haven’t been huge theatrical draws, but the poorly reviewed “Marlowe,” in which he plays a detective hired to find the ex-lover of a glamorous heiress, marks the actor’s worst start in some time. Ticket sales were below 2022’s “Memory” ($3.1 million debut) and “Blacklight” ($3.5 million), as well as pandemic-era releases like 2021’s “The Marksman” ($3.1 million) and 2020’s “Honest Thief” ($4.1 million).

In limited release, director Goran Stolevski’s queer romantic drama “Of An Age” opened to $406,000 from 289 screens — averaging $1,579 per location. Focus Features, which is releasing the R-rated film, hopes to keep expanding the theater count. Set in the summer of 1999, “Of An Age” follows a teenager who experiences an unexpected and intense 24-hour romance with his friend’s older brother.

“We are pleased with the film’s strong domestic start out of the gate arriving above our initial weekend targets,” says Lisa Bunnell, president of domestic distribution at Focus Features. “We see the promise of continued grosses in the coming weeks.”

(Updated on 2/20 with Monday’s estimates)

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