Marvel’s latest movie, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” became the first major blockbuster of 2023 after generating $104 million in domestic box sales, according to studio estimates released Sunday.
“It’s easily going to be the number one movie in North America and the world,” Box Office Guru founder and editor Gitesh Pandya told. “Part of that is because there’s no competition. Part of that is because it’s the biggest movie franchise out there.”
“Ant-Man” secured more than $17 million in domestic previews on Thursday.
“This is the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” Pandya added. “Every film is huge. This movie is a bit underwhelming. I didn’t like it as much as some of the other films, and it’s the third time around for ‘Ant-Man,’ so it’s hard to have something new. …But it is a built-in audience there. They’ll come out big-time.”
Box Office Pro estimated the film would secure between $95-$110 million over the long holiday weekend, and Pandya said “it could certainly, definitely break $100 million over four days — maybe get to $110 [million], possibly larger than that.”
At the same time, reviews were lackluster: The sequel boasts a current Rotten Tomatoes critic score of just 48% although the audience score is much higher at 84%.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” comes ahead of a slew of other action-packed titles set for release this year, including DC’s “Shazam: Fury of the Gods,” Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” among others.
“Hollywood banks on these superhero films,” Pandya said. “People complain all the time about how there is too many superhero movies, too many comic book movies, but at the end of the year when you look at the top-grossing films, most of the top 10 has these kinds of movies. This is where people spend their money.”
“Top Gun: Maverick” shattered a 15-year record after it debuted to much fanfare in May 2022. The Tom Cruise-led sequel was highest grossing film of the year, securing $1.5 billion globally.
“Maverick” was followed by “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which has secured more than $2.2 billion in worldwide ticket sales to date, along with “Jurassic World: Dominion” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
Theater chains like AMC (AMC), which recently implemented variable seat pricing, will be hoping for big box office returns this year after 2022 failed to live up to pre-pandemic levels.
Bloomberg Intelligence estimates there will be close to 100 wide releases in the U.S. in 2023 — up from last year’s 76 and 2019’s 120. More releases, coupled with elevated ticket prices, could boost full-year receipts to upwards of $8 billion, or around 70% of pre-pandemic levels.
Bloomberg added Q1 domestic box office receipts should come in near $1.8 billion, or 79% of 2019 levels, ahead of the “Ant-Man” sequel’s debut.