The curious case of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania's Disney Plus date is finally over. Yes, the movie wasn't a huge success by any metric, but its release date would have you convinced of otherwise, at least if you assume Disney delays things to make the most of a good box office.
The negative response to the latest Marvel movie was most pronounced by critics (outside of our Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania review). Ant-Man 3's Rotten Tomatoes score has been dipping and dipping since its release, and it's now at 47%. That puts it in a tie for last place in the MCU, alongside Eternals.
As Marvel Studios announced on Twitter, we'll be able to watch Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) take on Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) on Disney Plus starting on May 17, 2023. This villain will have a huge role in the upcoming Marvel movies (as there's literally an Avengers movie named The Kang Dynasty), but there's a lack of certainty that Majors will still be filling his armor, as the actor is currently facing assault charges.
So, let's put Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania's Disney Plus date in context with the rest of Marvel's cinematic releases, because it tells an interesting story.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania's Disney Plus release date is the most-delayed yet
Marvel Studios announced this streaming date after Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania didn't appear not on the Disney Plus May 2023 schedule. Now we know that that list doesn't have to include Marvel movies. And Ant-Man 3's May arrival fits the mid-range of the theater-to-streaming window.
For context, many movies take around 45 days to get from the theater to a streaming service. This is evolving, though. While The Batman on HBO Max had that kind of tight window, Top Gun: Maverick's Paramount Plus release was 209 days after its theatrical date. That film, though, is more of an outlier than anything.
So for now, let's focus on the Disney (and not Sony + Disney, so that eliminates Spider-Man: No Way Home) Marvel movies that have hit theaters before streaming.
This story famously began when Disney CEO Bob Chapek said that Shang-Chi would have a 45-day theatrical exclusivity window as "an interesting experiment." Star Simu Liu, gave a little guff to rile up the public, tweeting "We are not an experiment. We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers. We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year. We are the surprise. I’m fired the f**k up to make history..."
And then, as you'll see in this chart, it took Shang-Chi 70 days to arrive on Disney Plus:
|Title, (theatrical date)||Disney Plus date||Days before Disney Plus||Global box office|
|Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Sept. 3, 2021)||Friday, November 12, 2021||70||$432 million USD|
|Eternals (November 5, 2021)||Wednesday, January 12, 2022||68||$402 million USD|
|Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 6, 2022)||Wednesday, June 22, 2022||47||$952 million USD|
|Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8, 2022)||Thursday, September 8, 2022||60||$760 million USD|
|Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (November 11, 2022)||Wednesday, February 1, 2023||82||$855 million USD|
|Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (February 17, 2023)||Wednesday, May 17, 2023||89||$474 million USD|
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania's Disney Plus date in context of the MCU
Looking through the above data, you'll see two trends: Disney seems to favor Wednesdays, and it often drops Marvel movies on Disney Plus between 60 and 70 days after the release. But, the release windows are getting wider and wider. Interestingly enough, big box office numbers don't necessary lead to a longer wait (which one might expect).
Looking at this history of Disney Plus release dates, it looked like Wednesday, April 5, 2023, was the best possible Disney Plus release date for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Why? It's the first Wednesday around 45 or so (technically 47) days after Quantumania's February 17, 2023 theatrical date. But that didn't happen. Disney may not think Disney Plus needs Quantumania in April, as The Mandalorian season 3 will still be airing that month.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania's Disney Plus date is right next to its Blu-ray date
On Friday, April 7th, a tweet from the official @MarvelStudios account revealed Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania's digital (April 18) and Blu-ray (May 16) release dates.
So, now we know that Quantumania hits Disney Plus immediately after that second date.
Wakanda Forever proved that Disney's willing to wait a while. That instance, though, may be attributable to the company wanting to release the movie online during February, for Black History Month.
Outlook: Ant-Man 3 shows that Disney Plus dates for MCU movies are unpredictable
Our original prediction was that Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania comes to Disney Plus on April 28, 2023. The movie wasn't a huge hit, and it felt like Disney Plus needed it more than anyone else.
But, it seems, that Disney was willing to be patient. Its mid-May arrival makes some sense, as Disney Plus doesn't have a whole lot of big things in May. American Born Chinese (May 24) looks especially great, and Spider-Man: Homecoming (May 12) is dropping earlier in the month.
Our best bets going forward will be to think about when Disney Plus will need content, rather than how a movie's box office performance suggests its future.
Oh, and check out our Ant-Man and the Wasp's post-credits scenes explainer to decode what we just saw.