A lot of weight was placed on this weekend by the release of Marvel Studios’ first movie of 2023, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” once again starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas, and joined by Kathryn Newton as Cassie Lang and Jonathan Majors as the MCU’s newest big bad, Kang the Conqueror.
Surprisingly, it went into the weekend with some of the worst reviews for a Marvel movie since Chloé Zhao‘s “Eternals” back in November 2021. Released into 4,345 theaters, the “Ant-Man” threequel made $17.5 million in Thursday previews, which were rolled into the $46 million Friday estimate. That’s good compared to the previous two “Ant-Man” movies, but quite a bit less than the $90.7 million opening day for “Doctor Strange into the Multiverse of Madness,” $69.6 million opening for “Thor: Love and Thunder,” and the $84.3 million for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” It was better than “Black Widow’s” $39.5 million opening day, and the $29.5 million opening for “Shang-Chi” in 2021, although those weren’t sequels.
After that relatively weak opening day, it was all about how well Marvel’s movie might hold over the weekend. In that sense, it did okay with an estimated $104 million over the three-day weekend, the biggest opening for 2023 so far, with an estimated $118 million through Monday. “Quantumania” can now claim the third-biggest opening for Presidents Day (and the month of February) as well as the best opening for any of the”Ant-Man” movies.
Audiences were equally mixed as critics, giving the movie a “B” CinemaScore (same as “Eternals”), although the 84% Audience Score on RottenTomatoes is a bit more optimistic. Next weekend will be a real test for how well the movie does overall, since there are many franchise releases coming in March that might hinder “Quantumania” from setting any records.
While first place was a cinch, the next three slots in the top five were a little closer based on weekend estimates. James Cameron‘s “Avatar: The Way of Water” successfully fended off all comers to retain second place with an estimated $6.1 million, down 16% from last weekend. Including Monday, it’s estimated to make $7.5 million over the holiday weekend, for a total domestic take of $658.5 million. It has now passed 2015’s “Jurassic World” to become the ninth-highest grossing domestic release of all time. If it keeps things up at this pace, it could soon surpass “Titanic,” despite the latter’s recent re-release.
Warner Bros. continues to follow the strangest of release patterns for Channing Tatum and Steven Soderbergh‘s “Magic Mike’s Last Dance.” Last weekend, it was #1, despite being released into just 1,496 theaters. This weekend, Warners doubled the theaters by expanding it into 3,034 theaters where it ended up with an estimated $5.5 million, down 34% from its opening weekend and dropping to third place. So far, it has grossed $18.1 million after 10 days in theaters.
Offering some competition for third place was the animated sequel “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” which brought in another $5.3 million over the three-day weekend (down just 5% from last weekend) with slightly less than $7 million including Monday. That brings its domestic total to $168 million after nine weeks in theaters, while the DreamWorks Animation sequel has grossed $255.5 million overseas through Sunday to bring its global total to $421.6 million.
In fifth place, M. Night Shyamalan‘s “Knock at the Cabin” held up well in its third weekend despite losing 1,000 theaters, taking in $3.9 million over the three-day weekend (down 28%) and $4.5 million including Monday. So far, the movie has grossed $28.5 million domestically.
Paramount’s octogenarian comedy “80 for Brady” added another $3.6 million over the three-day weekend in 3,119 locations to take sixth place, bringing its domestic total to $32.3 million through Sunday.
James Cameron’s “Titanic,” which received a 25th anniversary release last weekend, took a massive plunge in its sophomore weekend with $2.3 million, a 66% drop from last weekend. The movie’s lifetime domestic gross should be in the $672 million range by Monday, and it looks very likely that “The Way of Water” will catch up to it soon.
Liam Neeson reunited with director Neil Jordan for “Marlowe,” an adaptation of one of the more recent Phillip Marlowe novels, which was released by Briarcliff Entertainment into 2,281 theaters on Wednesday. After making $760,000 in its first two days, it added another $1.9 million over the three-day weekend for eighth place, with $2.3 million over the four-day weekend. It’s estimated to have made around $3 million in its first five days.
The indie horror film “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” opened on Wednesday in 1,652 theaters via Fathom Events, where it made $761,000. Over the weekend, it made an estimated $679,000 in 445 theaters, having lost screens to “Ant-Man” and other movies, for $1.5 million through Sunday.
Australian filmmaker Goran Stolevski‘s “Of an Age” was released into 289 theaters by Focus Features on Friday, where it made $406,000 over the three-day weekend and $455,000 including the holiday Monday.
Bleecker Street released the biopic “Emily,” starring Emma Mackey as Emily Brontë, into 5 theaters in New York and L.A. where it brought in an estimated $40,000 or about $8,000 per theater. This isn’t great, considering Bleecker Street plans on expanding the movie moderately wide next Friday.
Players had it a little easier in this week’s box office prediction game, knowing full well that “Quantumania” would be #1 with the majority having it making between $100 and 150 million. On the other hand, a majority had “Magic Mike” taking second place rather than correctly picking “Avatar” to retain that spot, and only 49 players had the “Magic Mike” sequel ending up in third place. Only 14 players had “Puss in Boots” moving back into 4th place, so they have the best bet of acing the weekend.
“Cassone” went 6 for 6 in the Feb. 17 game, although regular winner “MellowDrama” did end up with the highest point score despite being 4 for 4.
Next week, Universal releases the comedy-horror “Cocaine Bear” up against Lionsgate’s “Jesus Revolution.” Check back on Wednesday for the weekend preview.