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‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ Box Office Drop Explained

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” was a huge success as a sophomore outing at the box office. Ticket sales for the third Marvel movie starring sub-atomic hero Paul Rudd fell 69% from its $105 million debut, resulting in the biggest second-weekend drop in franchise history.

This fall has inspired much debate among analysts and experts: Is the movie’s performance just a flash or an inflection point in Hollywood’s biggest property? The answer is likely somewhere in between, according to senior Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

“With second dips still going into the weekend, anything in the 70% realm is very important,” says Dergarabedian. But films that open at more than $100 million generally download. In some cases, the “the bigger they are, the harder they fall” plays into play.

In other words, the $32 million second weekend turnout isn’t exactly encouraging this early in its theatrical run, but let’s see where ticket sales end up by the time “Quantumania” leaves the big screen.

“Ant-Man 3” certainly had a big start, scoring the year’s first $100 million and landing by far the biggest opening weekend in Marvel’s pint-sized trilogy. And that’s despite garnering some of the worst reviews and audience scores in the entire MCU.

“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” says Jeff Bock, model relations analyst. “It had the biggest opening of the series, by far, which makes up for any dip.”

In addition to having a precedent. It is not unusual for major support pillars to earn the bulk of their revenue in the first weekend of release. Marvel movies are becoming increasingly front-loaded because viewers want to see them quickly to avoid spoilers, and the $200 million budget “Quantumania,” the 31st installment to kick off the MCU’s Phase 5 slate, is no exception.

In addition, theater owners—who set movie ticket prices—began charging more for blockbusters during their opening weekend. As a result, the second weekend’s attendance drop (compared to ticket sales) isn’t necessarily as significant as it sounds, according to studio sources. It didn’t help, however, that Ant-Man 3 was targeting a similar, younger male audience as Universal’s new horror comedy “Cocaine Bear,” which beat projections with $23 million over the weekend.

“Going out on the weekend doesn’t help either,” adds Sean Robbins, Senior Analyst, BoxOfficePro. (“Ant-Man 3” opened before President’s Day.)

Others feel it’s more than hot box office competition and harsh holiday comparisons. There’s concern that the latest “Ant-Man” movie is extending a potentially troubling trend for Marvel. While Quantumania has suffered its hardest fall, it’s not the only MCU movie recently to have had a significant second weekend drop. Pandemic-era entries, including “Black Widow” (67.8%), “Thor: Love and Thunder” (67.6%), “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (67.5%), and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (67%) experienced similar decreases.

However, those films — with the exception of “Black Widow,” which day and date were released on Disney Plus — made at least $760 million and as much as $955 million by the end of their theatrical runs. There’s an argument that Marvel hasn’t been appealing outside of its target audience, but that target audience is certainly one to count on. No other franchise, dozens of movies in, has managed to come close to this kind of consistency.

“Loyal fans will show up no matter what,” Robbins says. “The increasingly loaded nature, and sometimes divisive reception, of some of their recent films may not necessarily be worrisome for the brand in general as long as the core fan base remains.”

For this reason, analysts prefer to measure a film’s success by its total age – and the third “Ant-Man” is expected to improve upon its predecessors. To date, “Quantumania” has grossed $167 million in North America and $364 million worldwide after just two weeks in theaters. (Need proof that Marvel is operating on another level than its rivals? By next weekend, “Quantumania” will overtake Dwayne Johnson’s DC Comic book “Black Adam,” which left theaters with $392 million.)

By comparison, its first standalone adventure, 2015’s “Ant-Man,” opened to $57 million in North America and grossed $180 million domestically and $519 million globally. The 2018 sequel “Ant-Man and the Wasp” opened to $76 million in North America and ended up grossing $216 million domestically and $622 million globally. Based on its debut, “Quantumania” could end up making around $240 million domestically, sources estimate, though they say it’s too early to predict the worldwide total.

“The opening weekend number was a big step up from Ant-Man 2, so we know the fanbase is still excited,” says David A. Gross, who runs film consultancy Franchise Entertainment Research. “I’d be surprised if it means anything long-term or serious in terms of the quality of the Marvel brand.”

It’s worth reminding skeptics that not every Marvel movie is created equal. Ant-Man has never been as strong, at least at the box office, as its Avengers contemporaries. At the same time, future installments (no matter how beloved) will struggle to compete with a behemoth like “Avengers: Endgame.” So while there are understandable concerns that the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which now spans television as well as movies, will eventually oversaturate the market, analysts aren’t so sure that the less than enthusiastic reception to “Quantumania” will affect Guardians of the Year. Galaxy Vol” next. 3″ in May or “Marvels” in November.

“You’re not always going to get the Grand Slam,” Bock says. “But Marvel hits harder than anyone else.”

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