When Marvel Studios' Ant-Man was released in U.S. theaters over the summer, many felt that its box office performance wasn't much to write home about. Peyton Reed's foray into the MCU scored the lowest opening domestic weekend in the franchise's history since 2008's The Incredible Hulk, and the Stateside total of $179 million ranks tenth out of 12 MCU releases. Even though things weren't as bad as they seemed, it was still a far cry from the record-breaking success of Guardians of the Galaxy.
But in today's Hollywood, international grosses are deemed more important by executives, and Ant-Man was always doing well overseas (64.1 percent of its total came from those markets). The global intake was strong enough for Marvel to green light a sequel titled Ant-Man and the Wasp before it even debuted in its final foreign market -- China. That decision seems all the more wise now, since Marvel's tiniest hero has crossed a major box office milestone.
Deadline is reporting that Ant-Man is off to a hot start in China, bringing in $86.4 million in 12 days. That brings its worldwide total up to an impressive $498.5 million, meaning it is only a matter of time before it reaches $500 million. When it does, Ant-Man will become the seventh consecutive release from Marvel Studios (and ninth overall) to hit that mark.
It's great news for Marvel, since Ant-Man represented a risk for them heading into the year. In addition to being about a guy who communicates with insects, the project was plagued by bad pre-production buzz when original writer/director Edgar Wright left the project due to creative differences with Marvel. Reed stepped in at the last minute, and ended up crafting a fun superhero origins tale that mixed in entertaining heist elements to make it stand out.
Ant-Man is not the most successful Marvel movie by any means, but it's actually managed to top some of Marvel's Phase I projects during its run. The $498.5 million is better than the global numbers for The Incredible Hulk and the first Captain America and Thor movies. And depending on how well it plays in China, the original Iron Man's worldwide gross of $585.2 million is within range. Not bad for a film few expected much from.
The success of Ant-Man is the continuation of a very lucrative year for Walt Disney Pictures, as it will become their fourth release of 2015 to hit $500 million worldwide. The studio crossed the $4 billion mark earlier this month in a new company record, and they still have Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming to theaters over the holiday season. In a box office year that's been extremely top-heavy, the Mouse House is clearly one of the few winners out there.
It will be interesting to see how Ant-Man and the Wasp does when it is released in July 2018. Marvel's Phase 2 sequels all saw an increase in ticket sales (with the exception of Avengers: Age of Ultron), so it stands reason to believe the Ant-Man followup will see higher grosses when it comes out. If Marvel brings back the same team -- as they're keen on doing -- we certainly wouldn't bet against them.
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.