Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania Conquers The Box Office With Estimated $110-120 Million Debut

The presence of Jonathan Majors' Kang the Conqueror, who is set to be the Marvel Cinematic Universe's next Big Bad and will go up against its core superhero team in "Avengers: The Kang Dynasty," has propelled "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" to new heights for the franchise. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Quantumania" is expected to gross $110-120 million over Presidents' Day weekend, including $100 million from the three-day weekend.

After 15 years of escalating dominance over Hollywood, MCU movies are now virtually guaranteed hits at the box office. What's more, the large fandom, interconnected universe, and promise of surprise cameos and post-credits scenes have created a culture of seeing Marvel movies as early as possible, driving mammoth opening weekends (often followed by relatively steep drop-offs).

Despite mixed reviews, "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" looks set to benefit from that opening weekend hype with a domestic debut around 30 percent higher than that of the previous movie, "Ant-Man and the Wasp." It also benefits from something that Marvel movies have been missing out on for quite a while: a release in China. The sequel is projected to gross $130-190 million from 43 overseas markets over the weekend, following an initial two-day gross of $23.8 million. Perhaps thanks to "Avatar: The Way of Water" reviving audience interest in 3D and IMAX, 43% of Friday's ticket sales for "Quantumania" came from premium format screenings; those pricier tickets are giving it a boost as well.

How does Ant-Man measure up against the rest of the MCU?

Generally thought of as palette cleansers after huge team-up movies ("Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Avengers: Infinity War," respectively), the previous two "Ant-Man" movies took in relatively modest (for Marvel) worldwide grosses of $519.3 million and $622.6 million. The fact that Ant-Man is less of a draw than his fellow Avengers is even a running gag in-universe; in "Avengers: Endgame" he offered to let some kids take a selfie with him, only to have the offer politely declined, and "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" sees Scott treated with gushing adoration ... after being mistaken for Spider-Man.

Broadly speaking, Marvel Studios movies went from strength to strength at the box office until they (along with most other releases) dipped abruptly amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But the MCU came back swinging with "Spider-Man: No Way Home," which brought back Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's iterations of the web-slinger (plus some of their old enemies), and scored a massive $260 million opening weekend.

Comparing "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" to other Marvel movies released over the past year, it looks like Scott Lang is still the little guy. "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," opened with $187 million, "Thor: Love and Thunder" with $144 million, and "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" with $181 million. Next up is "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," arriving on May 5, so we'll find out then how the final adventure of the galaxy's most lovable misfits measures up against the big screen introduction of the multiverse's most ambitious egomaniac.