Every four years, the majority of the world – other than the U.S., of course – goes crazy over the World Cup, which lands smack dab in the middle of the summer and runs for an entire month. That’s super convenient for those who might have a little more time on their hands thanks to it being the summer but super inconvenient for those competing industries depending on expendable summer dollars. That’s why Hollywood hates the World Cup. As a certain fictional capitalist mayor once said in Hollywood’s first blockbuster, “We need summer dollars.” So, what do you do when there’s a better show in town?

You run the heck away and hide, that’s what. Hollywood now schedules its summer movies around the World Cup, and the poster child for that strategy this year has been Ant-Man and the Wasp. Disney put it out in just under half of the worldwide market around July 4th, right when the World Cup was entering its home stretch (this year’s Cup ran from June 14th to July 15th). 7 of the 11 biggest international markets, however, were skipped on the Ant-Man and the Wasp release schedule until after the World Cup was over. As such, while the film’s domestic performance has been decidedly good, not great it’s been difficult to reach any conclusions until it started making its way into more countries.

That’s starting to change. This past weekend, Ant-Man and the Wasp debuted in the UK (the 4th biggest international box office market). The weekend before that, it hit Germany (7th biggest). The weekend before, France (5th biggest). So, now seems like a good time for a status update on the ongoing “Is Ant-Man and the Wasp a success or disappointment?” debate.

The updated total numbers, as of 8/5. Keep in mind that Ant-Man cost $130m to make while Ant-Man and the Wasp, after tax-credits, reportedly had a budget in the $162m territory:

How that compares to the first Ant-Man:

Domestically, Ant-Man and the Wasp has posted an 8% improvement over its predecessor and is heading for a final run in the $210m-$215m territory. It currently has a 2.57x multiplier. That still trails the first Ant-Man’s 3.14x multiplier, and even though we’re talking about a movie which came out just three years ago the fact remains that at current ticket prices Ant-Man would have made $202m. So, Ant-Man and the Wasp will end up making somewhere around 16% more money than Ant-Man while actually selling barely more tickets, and it won’t have enjoyed nearly as strong a word-of-mouth (as measured by multiplier), though that’s to be expected when going from a new sub-franchise opener which has to prove itself to a sequel already playing to built-in fans.

Still, a 16% origin-story-to-first-sequel box office improvement is barely better than what the Thor franchise saw with Thor: The Dark World, and Marvel’s response there was to wait 4 years to make a third Thor film. What becomes of an Ant-Man and the Wasp threequel remains to be seen.

It’s sort of been the same story overseas as well. South Korea has gone crazy over this movie, delivering it to a 5-week total of $42.4m, a monumental jump over the first film’s $21m South Korean total. Otherwise, Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t significantly beating its predecessor’s performance in most countries. Here’s a breakdown of Ant-Man and the Wasp’s five leading international markets compared to Ant-Man:

Ant-Man

Ant-Man and the Wasp

% Improvement

South Korea

$21.2m

$42.4m

100

Mexico

$15.1m

$14.8m

-1.9

Australia

$10.9m

$13.9m

27.5

Russia

$11.5m

$12.7m

10.4

Brazil

$12.4m

$12.5m

0.8

Similarly, Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t exactly breaking the bank in the new countries it has been hitting up in recent weeks. Here are the film’s debut weekends in the U.K., France, and Germany compared to Ant-Man’s:

Ant-Man

Ant-Man and the Wasp

U.K.

$6.2m

$6.5m

France

$3.3m

$4.2m

Germany

$1.6m

$2.4m

What all of this means is Ant-Man and the Wasp is simply not going to be a Winter Soldier-like explosion from first to second film in Marvel sub-franchises. After the film’s top-5 lowest opening weekends in Marvel Studios history, there was a slim chance that the international market would help make up the difference, but instead the gains there have been modest, in some cases just keeping up with inflation, South Korea excluded, of course.

As with most other box office stories these days, it will an end up coming down to China, which has granted Ant-Man and the Wasp a release date later this month (8/24). Should the film equal or better the first Ant-Man’s Middle Kingdom $105m performance from three years ago then we’re likely looking at a worldwide total approaching $600m.

By Marvel standards, that would be a modest growth, but it would also be entirely in keeping with the studio’s smaller stakes, smaller budget, lowered financial expectations for the Ant-Man sub-franchise. Ant-Man and the Wasp will have failed to springboard from its predecessor’s long life on home video and Infinity War’s historic success into becoming a mega-franchise, but it will also end up making significantly more than just about every other 2018 live-action summer blockbuster other than Jurassic World 2, Deadpool 2, and Mission: Impossible-Fallout while also costing less than to make than almost all of them (other than Deadpool 2, which cost just $110m).

So, should Scott and Hope along with their family and friends actually survive the forthcoming Avengers 4, I wouldn’t be stunned to see Marvel commit to a third Ant-Man movie, just perhaps not exactly in a rush to do so since Paul Rudd will have featured heavily in two different Marvel movies (this and Avengers 4) two years in a row. I also wouldn’t be stunned to see Ant-Man and the Wasp simply absorbed into the next iteration of The Avengers, the Wasp to end up in a female team-up movie, or for Marvel to drag their feet on a sequel decision since they did spend more only to end up with a modest jump at the box office.

You can make a better financial argument for prioritizing Doctor Strange 2 instead, considered it will have bested both Ant-Man movies domestically and internationally while costing around the same to make as Ant-Man and the Wasp. However, this is Marvel we’re talking about. They’re about to finish 2018 with more money taken in from Black Panther, Infinity War, and Ant-Man and the Wasp alone than every other studio in Hollywood will earn for the entire year. They can make just about whatever they want now, and, truthfully, with the X-Men and Fanatastic Four newly available we have no idea where the MCU might go next.

PLOT SPOILERS BELOW

Personally, I still subscribe to the theory that Avengers 4 will involve a time jump which might see several years pass in the real world while Scott is stuck in the Quantum Realm, and the world he returns to will be very different. His daughter Cassie will be an embittered teenager and perhaps already a superhero, as per her comic book history and as per all the set-up they worked into Ant-Man and the Wasp. If that doesn’t happen in Avengers 4, though, the Cassie-as-superhero storyline is an obvious jumping off point for an Ant-Man 3 (or Ant-Man and the Wasp 2, however you want to think of it).

Ant-Man and the Wasp is due to hit Italy August 14, China August 24, and Japan August 31.

Advertisements

Posted by Kelly Konda

Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

6 Comments

  1. Ant-man has its place in the MCU…remember what you said about the first one? That you keep watching it with your…was it your niece? My point here is: The Ant-man franchise is supposed to be the entry drug into the MCU. The movie the fans of now will watch with their little kids as soon as they are remotely old enough, and which will lead to them later checking out everything else. And I think it does a great job to exactly that. Having seen the sequel now, it is like a big hug which welcomes you into the world and you just want to get more of it.

    Reply

    1. Mine, for the purposes of this article, was a more stat-oriented analysis, but you get at a large point, which is, all things being equal, does Kevin Feige see a continuing place for Ant-Man and the Wasp in the MCU? If the first two films in the sub-franchise end up enjoying roughly the same level of financial success, it might suggest a need to a retool or wait a little longer for a third entry, but it might also be seen as a perfectly reliable sub-franchise to keep around and market to family audiences. I remain convinced that Incredibles 2 robbed Ant-Man and the Wasp of a bit of that thunder this summer, domestically at least, yet it’s still going to end up doing respectable biz and endure as a family viewing option for those MCU fans who want something slightly less violent to enjoy with their kids. That certainly will have to factor into any decision-making about a sequel. The “isn’t it nice to just have these movies?” around argument doesn’t, of course, pass muster if they don’t make any money, but Ant-Man and the Wasp should end up doing perfectly fine in that department.

      “Having seen the sequel now, it is like a big hug which welcomes you into the world and you just want to get more of it.”

      That is the perfect description.

      “That you keep watching it with your…was it your niece?”

      Started out with my nephew, who still calls Ant-Man one of his favorite movies of all-time (he’s 10); it’s graduated to also involve my 5-year-old niece now, who absolutely loves the Wasp.

      Reply

      1. See, that’s what I mean. I mean, you could show a five year old The Winter Soldier, but I don’t think that she would get it. You certainly couldn’t show her infinity war unless you want to traumatize her for life (not that I think that children can’t handle a little bit of dead in their stories, but there is no need to overdo it either). But starting with Ant-man, then going GotG as soon as they are around 8 and finally graduating to the likes of Ironman, that works just fine, doesn’t it?

      2. “You certainly couldn’t show her infinity war unless you want to traumatize her for life (not that I think that children can’t handle a little bit of dead in their stories, but there is no need to overdo it either).”

        Gosh, I wish I went to see that other Disney-owned franchise movie “Rogue One” on opening night with lots of kids and their parents in the audience.

      3. I actually did see Rogue One with my brother and his kids, and my niece ended up leaving halfway through to play in the lobby. This wasn’t the fun movie she was hoping after loving Rey so much in Force Awakens. My nephew was mostly cool with it, but flash to this year and my nephew fell asleep halfway through Infinity War (he just found it kind of boring because he didn’t think any of it would stick long term – he was also bitter because his favorite character, Ant-Man, wasn’t in it) while my niece watched every second of it with me and took the deaths in stride, already hip enough to comic book movie conventions to know everyone who died will just come back next movie. I actually insisted on going with them because I wanted to be there to shield the impact of the ending and explain things to them. Then, one of them falls asleep and the other takes it totally in stride.

        Can’t speak to how other families experienced either film.

  2. […] may not reach or exceed those same heights, but it’s highly unlikely to fail at the box office. Outside of the Ant-Man sub-franchise, all Marvel Studios does is produce colossal, often record-setting hits. If Captain Marvel hits the […]

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.