by Ray Keating
Review/Analysis
DisneyBizJournal.com
July 17, 2018

DisneyBizJournal.com Movie Rating: 4 stars out of 5
DisneyBizJournal.com Box Office Rating:  $$$  out of $$$$

Ant-Man and the Wasp is about fun. It serves up fun for moviegoers, and it appears that it will offer a fun return for the Walt Disney Company.

This second Ant-Man movie sees the return of the likeable Paul Rudd playing the likeable Scott Lang/Ant-Man. He is struggling with the fallout from the decision he made to help Captain America in Captain America: Civil War. There have been consequences not just for himself, but for his daughter and everyone else in his life. That includes Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp, played with a certain sparkle by Evangeline Lilly, and her father, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Michael Peña as Luis – Scott’s friend and a wellspring of humor and laughs – also is affected.

This superhero movie revolves around Scott avoiding the FBI while trying to help Hope and Hank in their quest to find the long lost Janet Van Dyne – Hank’s wife and Hope’s mother. But the enjoyable action and humor that runs throughout this movie serve a story focused on family. Even the villains turn out to be somewhat sympathetic, with the role of family coming into play with them as well.

For many of us who grew up with superheroes, it’s pretty easy to become invested in the characters on the big screen. But Ant-Man and the Wasp makes no such assumptions about its audience. We care about Scott, Hope, Hank and others by coming to know them through the filmmakers’ storytelling. That was the case in Ant-Man, and even more so in Ant-Man and the Wasp.

On the box office front, it’s widely reported that production costs for the movie came in at $130 million. But then there’s the nebulous “marketing and other costs,” which no one in Hollywood seems willing to report in concrete terms. A general, back-of-the-envelope guess-timate is to use at least half of the production budget as a proxy. So, if we estimate total costs for Ant-Man and the Wasp topping $200 million, then the movie is pointing to a tidy profit with the latest global box office take already coming in at $284 million, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, while still waiting on a good chunk of international numbers.

The Ant-Man movies are Marvel’s big little movies. With a similar budget as the second film, 2015’s Ant-Man earned $519 million in ticket revenues. That movie was a fun (there’s that word again) superhero heist story.

Disney’s Marvel certainly is on a roll. Indeed, it’s had three hits this year alone with Black Panther, Avenger: Infinity War and now Ant-man and the Wasp. Crazy, right? While those three films obviously fall into the superhero/comic book genre, they still are very different movies – from both storytelling and business perspectives. The Ant-Man films make clear that a studio doesn’t need to break the bank to serve up a quality superhero movie. It just takes appealing characters and a solid story. Hmmm, go figure.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels, with the two latest books being Reagan Country: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel and Heroes and Villains: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story. He can be contacted at raykeating@keatingreports.com.