Marvel Studios has kicked the box office into high gear again. “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” landed the largest opening day of 2023 so far with a $46 million gross from 4,345 locations, a figure that includes $17.5 million from Thursday preview screenings.
That marks the third-highest February opening day in history, standing behind two other superhero adventures, “Black Panther” ($75.9 million) and “Deadpool” ($47.3 million). “Quantumania” also landed the highest such figure for the “Ant-Man” series, beating out the 2015 original ($22.6 million) and its 2018 sequel ($33 million).
Released by Disney, “Quantumania” is currently eyeing a three-day opening north of $100 million. Some more bullish industry predictions have the film ending up about $130 million over the four-day Presidents’ Day holiday frame. That would come in under the openings of last year’s Marvel slate, including “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” ($185 million), “Thor: Love and Thunder” ($144 million) and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” ($181 million). But the “Ant-Man” films have typically carried a more modest profile than their Marvel peers (though still a super-sized one in comparison to the average studio release).
Critics have been far cooler than their typically warm reception for Marvel. “Quantumania” currently holds a 35% approval rating from top critics on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. Audience reception looks to be below par too, with the film earning a “B” grade through research firm Cinema Score, indicating mild approval among general moviegoers. For comparison, that’s the lowest Cinema Score grade ever for a Marvel Cinematic Universe entry, tied with 2021’s “Eternals.”
In Variety‘s review, chief film critic Owen Gleiberman wrote that he has “rarely encountered a Marvel adventure that’s this busy with a do-or-die saving-the-cosmos plot that feels this much like it exists simply to set up the next dozen chapters of something.”
Directed by Peyton Reed, “Quantumania” stars Paul Rudd as Ant-Man and Evangeline Lilly as Wasp, along with Jonathan Majors debuting as supervillain Kang the Conqueror. The cast also includes Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Bill Murray and Kathryn Newton.
Disney also landed in second place on domestic charts with James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water.” The 20th Century Studios production earned $1.35 million on Friday, projecting an $8 million gross through the four-day holiday frame. Now in its 10th weekend of release, “The Way of Water” looks to reach a $658 million domestic gross this weekend.
Third place is projected to go to Universal’s “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.” The animated release could actually end up with a slight week-to-week uptick over the holiday weekend. The DreamWorks spinoff has been holding spectacularly since a slightly muted holiday opening. In its ninth weekend of release, “The Last Wish” looks to push its domestic gross to an impressive $167 million.
“Magic Mike’s Last Dance” doubled its theater count in its second weekend, expanding from a semi-limited 1,538 locations to 3,034. The Warner Bros. sequel earned $1.66 million on Friday, down 66% from its opening day last week. The stripper musical looks to add roughly $5 million to its domestic gross over the holiday weekend.
Rounding out the top five, Universal’s “Knock at the Cabin” is projecting $4.3 million over the four-day weekend, pushing its domestic gross to $30 million. The thriller is tracking behind director M. Night Shyamalan’s recent films, though it carries a modest production budget of $20 million.