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Size Isn’t Everything for Ant-Man

July 20, 2015

Movie_Quality_Index_Data_20150720

 

 

7/17/2015 - 7/19/2015

Movie TitleIndex Value
Ant-Man74.33
Minions59.33
Trainwreck76.33
Inside Out93.00
Jurassic World68.00
Terminator Genisys44.67
Magic Mike XXL62.33
The Gallows30.67
Ted 254.00
Mr. Holmes76.00
Misix Movie Quality Index Value63.87

 

The top of this past weekend’s box office was as tight as we (and actual experts) expected, with Ant-Man (74.33 index value) edging Minions (59.33) by a little less than $8 million. Marvel’s latest offering wound up with an estimated $58 million to finish slightly below projections, which was just bad enough news to make Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige pause for two seconds before sledding down his money pile.

If not for the fact that Marvel towers over the movie industry like a Colossus (ha), Ant-Man’s performance might have been cause for concern. Within the confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the new film’s opening weekend was:

  • The second worst in domestic earnings with $58,040,000 (behind The Incredible Hulk with $55,414,050).
  • The fourth smallest release with 3,856 theaters (The Incredible Hulk had 3,505).
  • The second worst per-screen average with $15,051 (behind the $15,810 posted by, you guessed it, The Incredible Hulk).

What can we glean from this list besides the fact audiences are lukewarm at best about any Hulk movie not starring Mark Ruffalo? Nothing definitive, of course. But we can offer a few half-assed theories.

 

1. Audiences have Marvel fatigue.

The MCU has added two movies annually in four of the last five years. The only exception was 2012, which The Avengers took care of all by itself with more than $1.5 billion in global earnings. If you mark the beginning of Marvel’s reign with Iron Man back in 2008, Ant-Man is its 12th film, and it has 10 more with confirmed release dates between now and August 2019. That’s a snowstorm of activity, and it’s possible moviegoers felt like taking a breather.

 

2. The character just isn’t popular enough.

Ant-Man is a secondary character for Marvel — maybe even a tertiary one. The MCU has so many well-established figures at this point that the incredible shrinking man, by comparison, is tough to get excited about. You could argue that Iron Man didn’t exactly have a shrieking fan base before his cinematic introduction, but he did benefit from a well-executed hype machine. Ant-Man didn’t even get the courtesy of a post-credits sequence in an earlier Marvel movie. Without that to stoke the fires, convincing audiences to show up required a bigger effort than usual.

 

3. Marvel has the bigger picture in mind.

We mean this figuratively and literally. In the more abstract sense, the underperformance of a single movie doesn’t matter to Marvel quite as much because these solo ventures have a greater goal to keep the MCU as a whole fresh and new by introducing new characters. Essentially, Ant-Man is another tool in the box — one the studio can use when it has a movie whose plot requires an individual capable of sneaking around and stealing things. That’s where the literal “bigger picture” comes into play. Marvel doesn’t trot out a character without a plan, so we’ll probably see Ant-Man make a crucial appearance in a super-sized team effort like Captain America: Civil War or either of the Infinity War films.

What it really comes down to is, at this point, Marvel Studios is the Apple of the movie world. It doesn’t need to release anything terribly innovative for people to hand over their money, nor does it need every single product to be a wild success as long as it helps further the overall strategy.

 

The weekend ahead: Uh-oh. Another Adam Sandler movie shows up this weekend. Man, that really snuck up on us. It’s not that we haven’t seen the commercials for Pixels. We just preferred to think of them as a reminder that Futurama did this same thing way better back in 2008, and we should go back and watch that episode.

If you’ve sustained a head injury recently and as a result are even remotely considering seeing Pixels, please, for the love of all that’s decent in the world, check out the Futurama version instead. Or Wreck-It Ralph. Or find someplace where you can play these old games and let the wave of nostalgia wash over you. Just stop encouraging Adam Sandler. Thank you.

 

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