Quantumania Scores $17.5 Million In Thursday Box Office Previews, An Ant-Man Franchise Best

The first bonafide Hollywood blockbuster of 2023 is upon us in the form of Marvel's "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania." Not only is this the first blockbuster of the year, but it's also the beginning of Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is a pretty big deal for hardcore fans of the franchise. That being the case, moviegoers are turning up en masse to see the tiniest Avenger do his thing, with the film posting record-setting Thursday box office numbers.

As per The Hollywood Reporter, director Peyton Reed's "Quantumania" took in $17.5 million in Thursday preview screenings. That represents a record for the "Ant-Man" series, besting 2015's "Ant-Man" ($6 million previews/$57 million weekend) and "Ant-Man and the Wasp" ($12 million previews/$76 million weekend). As it stands, the latest MCU adventure is tracking for $110 million over the full President's Day weekend, which would include Monday. However, these preview numbers strongly indicate that the movie will do better than anticipated.

So much of this has to do with the fact that this is being sold as an Avengers-level threat in a corner of the MCU that has, historically, dealt with smaller threats. The threat, in this case, being Jonathan Majors' Kang the Conqueror, who is being set up as the big bad of Phase 5 and Phase 6 of the MCU, which will culminate in "Avengers: The Kang Dynasty" and "Avengers: Secret Wars." That has been more than enough to entice moviegoers, it would seem.

How the numbers stack up

For comparison's sake, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" opened to $17 million in previews back in 2017, on its way to a $146.5 million opening weekend. More recently, James Cameron's "Avatar: The Way of Water" also opened to $17 million in previews, en route to a $134 million opening weekend. Those are just a couple of examples, but the comparisons certainly indicate that Paul Rudd's third solo go-around as Scott Lang will do bigger numbers than anyone expected. The question is, can it hold up in the weeks to come?

The only potential issue right now is that the film holds a pretty brutal 48% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, only the second ever MCU film to earn a "rotten" rating, alongside "Eternals." The audience score is far better though, at 84%. While no budget figures have been released, recently Marvel films have all been much closer to the $200 million range before marketing. That is far more than "Ant-Man" or "Ant-Man and the Wasp," both of which were in the $130 million range. That is to say, Marvel and Disney need this one to keep the box office dollars coming to justify a likely Avengers-sized budget.

Starring alongside Paul Rudd and Jonathan Majors are Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathryn Newton, Bill Murray, Katy O'Brian, William Jackson Harper, James Cutler, and David Dastmalchian.

"Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" is in theaters now.