Quantumania’ Box Office Drop explained – variety

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” took a big hit in its second run at the box office. Ticket sales for the third Marvel movie starring Paul Rudd’s subatomic hero dropped 69% from its $105 million debut, resulting in the biggest second-weekend drop in franchise history.

That fall sparked much debate among analysts and pundits: Is the film’s performance a blip or a turning point in Hollywood’s largest property? The answer probably lies somewhere in between, according to senior Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

“As the second weekend drops go, anything in the 70% realm is pretty significant,” says Dergarabedian. “But movies that open at over $100 million are generally preloaded. In some cases, ‘the bigger they are, the harder they fall’ comes into play.”

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

“Ant-Man 3” certainly had a big start, scoring its first $100 million debut of the year and landing by far the biggest opening weekend in the little Marvel trilogy. And that’s despite being saddled with some of the worst reviews and audience ratings in the entire MCU.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “It had by far the biggest opening of the series, which makes up for any drops.”

Moreover, there is a precedent. It is not uncommon for large tent poles to earn most of their revenue in the first weekend of release. Marvel movies are increasingly being pushed to the forefront because audiences want to see them quickly to avoid spoilers, and the $200 million budgeted “Quantumania,” the 31st installment and the beginning of Phase 5 of the MCU, is no exception.

In addition, theater owners – who set movie ticket prices – have started to charge more for blockbuster films during the opening weekend. As a result, second weekend attendance drops (compared to ticket sales) aren’t necessarily as great as they seem, according to studio sources. Still, it didn’t help that “Ant-Man 3” aimed at a similar audience of younger men as Universal’s new horror-comedy “Cocaine Bear,” which topped expectations this weekend with $23 million.

“Leaving for a holiday weekend doesn’t help either,” added Shawn Robbins, principal analyst at BoxOfficePro. (“Ant-Man 3” opened prior to President’s Day).

Others feel it’s more than a heated box office competition and harsh holiday comparisons. There are concerns that the latest “Ant-Man” will continue a potentially worrying trend for Marvel. While “Quantumania” experienced the steepest drop, it’s not the only recent MCU movie to see a substantial drop in its second weekend. 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%), suffered similar declines.

Still, those movies — with the exception of “Black Widow,” which was released day and night on Disney Plus — made at least $760 million and a whopping $955 million at the end of their theatrical runs. There’s an argument that Marvel hasn’t been appealing outside of its target audience, but that audience is certainly reliable. No other franchise, dozens of movies in, has managed to come close to that kind of consistency.

“The loyal fans will show up no matter what,” Robbins says. “The increasingly frontal nature and sometimes divisive reception of some of their recent films shouldn’t necessarily be a concern for the brand in general, as long as the core fanbase remains.”

For that reason, analysts prefer to measure the film’s success by its total lifespan — and the third installment of “Ant-Man” is expected to be an improvement on 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 operates on a different level than its rivals? Next weekend, “Quantumania” will overtake the total lifetime of Dwayne Johnson’s DC comic book “Black Adam,” which grossed $392 million in theaters.)

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

“The opening weekend issue was a big step up from ‘Ant-Man 2,’ so we know the fan base is still excited,” said David A. Gross, who heads the film consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “I’d be surprised if it meant anything long term or serious in terms of the quality of the Marvel brand.”

It’s worth reminding the skeptics that not every Marvel movie is created equal. Ant-Man has never been as powerful, at least at the box office, as his Avenger contemporaries. At the same time, future installments (beloved as they are) will struggle to ever compete with a behemoth like “Avengers: Endgame.” So while there are understandable concerns that the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which now includes television in addition to film, will eventually oversaturate the market, analysts aren’t sure that the less enthusiastic reception of “Quantumania” will affect the forthcoming “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” in May or “The Marvels” in November.

“You don’t always get a grand slam,” says Bock. “But Marvel hits more home runs than anyone else.”

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