After a painfully long production process, Marvel’s smallest big-screen hero has finally arrived, and according to studio estimates (which could see some adjustment by Monday morning) Ant-Man is looking at about a $58 million domestic haul.
For what it’s worth, that’s the second lowest debut for a Marvel Studios picture, just shy of 2008’s The Incredible Hulk opening to $55 million and on the low end of Marvel’s projections for the property.
Ant-Man was always a bit of a dicey proposition for Marvel; he’s a little-known “C-list” hero, and while I doubt most members of the general audience know Edgar Wright from Edgar Bergen, there had been a certain level of tough buzz surrounding the production of the film due to Wright’s storied exit just before shooting was to begin in Atlanta.
Strangely enough, Guardians of the Galaxy was seen as an equally tough sell and opened in a worse month (August), yet it thrived. Both films had an “A” Cinemascore, the not terribly scientific polling of audience-goers who actually attend these screenings, so they were equally well received.
So why did Guardians thrive in its opening weekend (at $94.3 million) where Ant-Man failed to reach similar heights? If I had to guess, marketing was likely the key issue. It never seemed as though the studio knew how to actually sell the picture. Was it a fun romp for families? Was it a 20’s-30’s male leaning comedic affair? And Marvel’s last-minute attempt at stressing the connections to their shared cinematic universe with a number of ads to that effect didn’t really do the trick either.
That’s not to say $58 million is a flop by any means, because it’s not, particularly given Ant-Man‘s more modest $130 million budget (not counting whatever was sunk into marketing). But, this is a case of Marvel becoming a victim of their own success a bit. With each opening since 2010 ranging from $65-210 million, the inevitable film that hit below that was going to face some scrutiny.
It’s possible that Peyton Reed‘s newest directorial outing may find some legs in the coming weeks, and the international numbers are only now coming in ($56.4 million and counting), but as of now Ant-Man‘s “Avengers bump” is a bit non-existent it seems.
For the record, I don’t think if Wright stayed on as director it would have really done much, if any, better.
What did you think, readers? Was Ant-Man all you hoped it would be?
Entertainment Editor for The Beat covering film, television and the occasional comic book. His work can also be found at GeekRex.com and can be heard on the GeekRex podcast. Also, your go-to Grant Morrison/Love & Rockets/Hellboy/Legion of Super-Heroes expert.