New York Daily News

‘Ant-Man’ is still a Marvel at the box office


Phase 5 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” (photo) opened with $104 million in domestic ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sunday, easily surpassing the box-office debuts of the previous two Ant-Man films. The Walt Disney Co.’s “Quantumani­a” added another $121.3 million overseas to give the pint-size hero a $225 million global launch.

It’s easily the largest opening of the year so far. And “Quantumani­a” did so despite an atypically poor reception for the 31st MCU film. “Quantumani­a,” starring Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp and Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror, sits at 48% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the only MCU film to rank as rotten beside “The Eternals” (47%).

Audiences also weren’t thrilled with “Quantumani­a,” giving it a “B” CinemaScor­e. “The Eternals” is the only other MCU film to receive a CinemaScor­e that low.

Those scores will pose the biggest concern for Marvel as it continues to unroll Phase 5 of the MCU, following mixed reviews for the post-“Avengers: Endgame” Phase 4 of the comic-book franchise. Up next is “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” in May.

But bad reviews or not, theaters hope “Quantumani­a” — the first blockbuste­r of the year — is a sign of things to come. After the turmoil of the past three years, there are some 30 more wide releases planned for 2023.

The first “Ant-Man” launched with $57.2 million domestical­ly in 2015, the smallest opening for any movie in the MCU. It ultimately earned $519.3 million worldwide. Its sequel, “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” debuted three years later with $75.8 million and went to collect $622.7 million globally.

China was vital for both of those releases, with each topping $100 million there. But in recent years, particular­ly during the pandemic, fewer U.S. movies have secured major releases in the heavily regulated Chinese market. Not since “Avengers: Endgame” in 2019 has a Disney release opened simultaneo­usly in the U.S. and China.

Whether China will ever go back to those prepandemi­c numbers for U.S. movies, however, remains to be seen — especially as tensions continue to fester between the two countries. “Quantumani­a” took in $19 million over the 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. With $2.24 billion globally, Cameron’s sci-fi sequel has now just surpassed “Titanic” — currently back in theaters for its 25th anniversar­y — as the third-highest grossing film ever. Now, only the 2009 “Avatar” and “Avengers: Endgame” rank above “The Way of Water.”

Landing in third was last week’s top film, “Magic Mike’s Last Dance,” with $5.5 million. The Channing Tatum sequel has collected $18.1 million in two weeks.

In fourth was Universal’s “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” which has enjoyed an unusually long run in theaters as the top family option since late December. With $5.3 over the weekend, it has totaled $167 million domestical­ly and more than $400 million worldwide.

Only one new film went into wide release against “Quantumani­a.” Open Road and Briarcliff Entertainm­ent premiered “Marlowe,” with Liam Neeson playing Raymond Chandler’s classic private eye, in 2,281 locations. “Marlowe,” though, only mustered $1.9 million.

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