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Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania‘s sting is working.
Marking the first studio event pic of 2023, the third film in Marvel Studios and Disney’s stand-alone superhero series is headed for a franchise-best domestic debut of $120 million at the Presidents Day box office, including $105.5 million for the three days.
Overseas, the Marvel pic collected $121.3 million for an early global start of $241.3 million. One sore spot was China, where the movie collected a tepid $19.2 million, far less than the previous two installments. It is the first Marvel and Disney movie to get a day-and-date release in the Middle Kingdom since Avengers: Endgame in 2019, and there’s concern the brand may have lost its sheen, or that the overall appetite for Hollywood superhero fare has waned (DC’s upcoming Shazam! Fury of the Gods will be a key test).
In North America, when comparing like-for-like three-day numbers, Ant-Man 3 opened an impressive 37 percent ahead of the last film despite poor reviews and a tepid B CinemaScore from audiences.
The first Ant-Man launched to $57.2 million domestically over its first three-day weekend — the lowest start of any MCU offering — on its way to earning $519.3 million globally. Three years later, the second film, Ant-Man and the Wasp, started off with $75.8 million in North America before topping out at $622.7 million worldwide. The preview earnings for the two films were $6 million and $12 million, respectively.
The threequel reunites director Peyton Reed with actors Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly. The cast also includes Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonathan Majors, Kathryn Newton, Bill Murray, Katy O’Brian, William Jackson Harper, James Cutler and David Dastmalchian.
One challenge for Quantumania: Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer is presently at 48 percent, the second worst of any film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe behind Eternals (47 percent), and notably behind the Tomatometer rankings for 2012’s Ant-Man (83 percent) and 2015’s Ant-Man and the Wasp (87 percent). Generally speaking, male-skewing superhero fare is more immune to bad notices than other genres.
Audiences are also less enthusiastic — or at least those polled by CinemaScore. Moviegoers gave the film a B CinemaScore, compared to A for the first Ant-Man and A- for the second. The audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is in the same range as the score for the first two.
Black Panther remains the Presidents Day crown holder with a four-day gross of $242.2 million, followed by Deadpool with $152.2 million and Fifty Shades of Grey ($93 million), not adjusted for inflation.
Elsewhere on the top 10 chart, Avatar: The Way of Water held at No. 2 domestically with $6.1 million as it passed up Titanic at the global box office to become the No. 3 pic of all time, not adjusted for inflation.
Magic Mike’s Last Dance, now in its second weekend, came in third with an estimated $6.3 million for the four days. The film fell less than 35 percent after adding 1,538 theaters for a total location count of 3,034. Overseas, the Channing Tatum threequel earned another $6.3 million for a global tally of nearly $39 million through Monday.
Stalwart family film Puss in Boots: The Last Wish claimed the fourth spot on the four-day Presidents Day chart with $7.4 million as it marched past the $420 million mark at the worldwide box office. Knock at the Cabin rounded out the top five with $4.5 million for the four days.
Ant-Man 3 may have been the only new major studio offering of the holiday weekend, but Briarcliff and Open Road also used the frame to debut the Liam Neeson crime-thriller Marlowe, which is estimating a paltry four-day debut of $2.3 million, including $1.9 million for the three days.
Special events distributor Fathom unveiled Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey — the micro-budget British slasher from director Rhys Frake-Waterfield that became a viral sensation last year for its childhood-bludgeoning premise — in 1,700 U.S. theaters on Wednesday and Thursday to a strong $894,000 million for the two days. The film started to lose momentum over the weekend as it reduced its location count to 475 locations but will still finish Monday with a pleasing domestic total of $1.5 million to $1.6 million.
Sony Pictures Classics’ Return to Seoul boasted the top location average of the weekend ($15,362) for any specialty film as it opened in two locations. Sony Classics also used the holiday weekend to reissue a 4K edition of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 475 cinemas for a muted location average of $375 (there was also a premium VOD push).
Feb. 19, 7:42 a.m. Updated with revised grosses.
This story was originally published on Feb. 18 at 8:10 a.m.
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