The tentpole drought, created by the pandemic’s post-production logjam, is officially over this weekend as Disney and Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania opens the floodgates on what is a consistent flow of event movies from this Friday until early September.
Early tracking four weeks ago indicated $120 million in U.S./Canada box office over the four-day Presidents Day holiday. Disney is hoping for at least $95M over three days and $105M-$110M over four at 4,300 theaters — either way a franchise-record start and a great 25% surge from the three-day opening of 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s $75.8M.
As is standard, there are no other frosh wide releases from rival studios. With the Peyton Reed-directed threequel kicking off overseas Wednesday, it’s looking like around $160M for a global start of $280M (that includes $35M-$55M from China). Tracking remains slightly unpredictable for big films even as the pandemic has eased, but with Jonathan Majors’ new mega-MCU villain Kang the Conqueror making his big-screen debut after his variant’s introduction in the Marvel/Disney+ series Loki, that could create a stampede of walk-up business this coming weekend.
Currently, domestic advance ticket sales for Ant-Man 3 is tracking 15% behind Thor: Love and Thunder, which opened to $144.1M over three days. Natch, Disney has all the Imax (400 auditoriums), PLF (about 900), Dbox (280) and 3D screens (2,500).
Ant-Man 3 will start Wednesday in France, Korea, Germany and Italy before putting up its antennae in essentially all overseas markets through Friday. Turkey is being delayed amid the humanitarian crisis. Stateside, Thursday previews start at 3 p.m.
Currently, Rotten Tomatoes reviews are at 63% fresh off 70 reviews at the time of this post, which is under the 87% certified fresh of Ant-Man and the Wasp and the 83% certified fresh of Ant-Man. Previous CinemaScores were A for Ant-Man and A- for Ant-Man and the Wasp. Previous Ant-Mans skewed mostly male at around 60%, with 62% of the audience over age 25.
Ant-Man 3 is the first MCU title to release in China in step with domestic since Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame and Sony/Marvel’s Spider-Man: Far From Home in 2019 (the latter having gone a week early). It’s also only the second Marvel title to be given a China date since Far From Home — Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was granted a window earlier this month, basically as a primer. This all comes after what was seen as an unofficial ban on movies with Marvel characters over the past few years, an issue that seemed to stem from cultural, geopolitical and wider Hollywood sensitivities.
As ever, and perhaps more than ever, China will be a swing market this weekend. As expected, folks did not turn up in droves for Black Panther 2, though it had already been subject to piracy and not a good barometer for which way the wind is blowing among Marvel movie audiences. To complicate matters, there are a host of new local titles set to release this week including Journal of the Party Secretary and sports drama Ping-Pong of China.
In like-for-likes, Ant-Man and The Wasp bowed to $169M overseas in 2018 while the original Ant-Man did $109M in 2015.
Another thing to keep an eye out for this frame: how the heavier sci-fi focus in Quantumania resonates in markets that have struggled with that kind of genre in the past.