February 2023 box office preview: ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ sets up Marvel’s Phase 5 

Things seem to be getting back to normal this month, but maybe that’s just because we’re getting our first superhero movie since November 2022, and it’s the latest sequel from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Read on for Gold Derby’s February 2023 box office preview.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” (Marvel/Disney) – Feb. 17

The first major blockbuster of the year and Marvel’s latest brings Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly back as Ant-Man and the Wasp, as they go down to the “Quantum-verse” and face-off against Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror, who previously appeared in the “Loki” series. This kicks off Marvel’s Phase 5, which will build over the next two years leading up to 2025’s “Avengers: The Kang Dynasty,” directed by “Shang-Chi” helmer, Destin Daniel Cretton. With such a lengthy gap since “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” this is likely to open with $125 million or more over Presidents Day weekend, which will be quite a bump from the previous movie’s $75.8 million opening in 2018.

“Knock at the Door” (Universal) – Feb. 3

Night Shyamalan returns with a new thriller based on the novel “The Cabin at the End of the World“ by Paul Tremblay, making it only Shyamalan’s second adapted movie. This one’s about a girl and her parents vacationing at a cabin when a group of strangers shows up, including one played by Dave Bautista, suggesting the family can avert apocalypse if one of them dies. This should be good for $20 million or more, but check back later this week for the weekend preview for more on its box office prospects.

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“Magic Mike’s Last Dance” (Warner Bros.) – Feb. 10

Channing Tatum returns to the popular role of exotic dancer Mike Lane with Steven Soderbergh returning to direct his first theatrical release in five years, the two of them joined by Salma Hayek to bring this story to an end. Opening over Super Bowl weekend, this should be a movie that brings women back into theaters possibly for an early Valentine’s Day date night, and it should be good for an opening around $20 million or more, which would be up from the $12.9 million opening for 2018’s “Magic Mike XL.”

Cocaine Bear” (Universal) – Feb. 24

Produced by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord and directed by Elizabeth Banks, this oddball horror-action-comedy is selling itself with its high-concept true-story premise that gives viewers exactly what’s offered from the title: a movie about a killer bear that’s gotten into a stash of cocaine. With an oddball cast that includes Alden Ehrenreich, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Isaiah Whitlock Jr. and even “The Florida Project” star Brooklynn Prince, this one could bring in around $15 million against the second weekend of “Ant-Man.”

“80 for Brady” (Paramount) – Feb. 3

Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sally Field and Rita Moreno star in this adult-targeted comedy, as four friends who travel to the Super Bowl in hopes of meeting their hero, quarterback Tom Brady. With four hugely popular Hollywood legends, this one could bring in older women and football fans alike with its timely release in the final week of football season, and could end up pulling out somewhere between $8 and 10 million its opening weekend. Again, check out this week’s weekend preview to learn more about this.

SEE Grab the popcorn and sound off in our movie forums

“Titanic 25-Year Anniversary” (Paramount) – Feb. 10

Also opening over Super Bowl weekend is this re-release of James Cameron’s second-highest grossing movie – canl “Avatar: The Way of Water” catch up and surpass it? The Oscar-winning 1998 romantic epic gets a timely 25th anniversary re-release, although it might lose some of its potential female audience to “Magic Mike’s Last Dance.” There’s such a devout fanbase for the movie, though, that it should still be able to bring in $7 or 8 million with a fairly wide re-release.

“Jesus Revolution” (Lionsgate) – Feb. 24

Jon Erwin, one half of the Erwin Brothers, responsible for some of Lionsgate’s biggest faith-based hits, follows his 2021 doc, “The Jesus Music,” with this story about how a community of Southern California teenage hippies led to the nation’s spiritual awakening of the early ‘70s. Erwin’s last two films were hobbled by the pandemic, but this could act as suitable counter-programming to “Cocaine Bear” to bring in $7 to 8 million.

“Marlow” (Open Road) – Feb. 15

Liam Neeson reunites with Open Road for his seventh outing with the indie distributor – at this point, should we assume they have blackmail pictures on the Oscar-nominated Irish actor? Set in the ‘30s, this one is directed by Neil Jordan and has Neeson playing Raymond Chandler’s down-on-his-luck detective Philip Marlowe, who is hired to find the ex-lover of an heiress, played by Diane Kruger. The movie also stars Jessica Lange, and may offer some counter-programming over Presidents Day weekend, but probably will tap out at $5 or 6 million in its six-day opening from Wednesday.

“Of an Age” (Focus Features) – Feb. 17

The new movie from Australian-Macedonia filmmaker, Goran Stolevski (“You Won’t Be Alone”), follows the 24-hour romance between a dancer, played by Thom Green, and the older brother of his dance partner, played by Toby Derrick. This will be getting a limited release on Feb. 10 before expanding wider on the 17th, but it’s unlikely to be a big moneymaker.

Before we get into some limited releases, we have a special category for this month’s indie horror films, a few of them hoping to achieve the success of last year’s hit “Terrifier 2.”

“The Outwaters” (Screambox/Cinedigm) – Feb. 9

Following the surprise horror sensation of 2022’s “Terrifier 2,” the same distribution team hopes to find similar viral success with Robbie Banfitch’s horror film about four travelers in a remote section of the Mojave Desert, who happen upon a menacing phenomenon.

“Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” (Fathom Events) – Feb. 15

You read that right. With A.A. Milne’s beloved children’s book character entering the public domain, movies like this horror version of the cuddly pooh bear (not to be confused with Cocaine Bear) will get a semi-wide release over Presidents Day weekend.

And from that, we go into the only *actual* family film of the month…

“The Amazing Maurice” (Viva Pictures) – Feb. 3

Terry Pratchett’s novel about a streetwise cat is brought to the screen, though this is likely to get more of a limited release than most theatrical family films, so “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” has nothing to worry about in terms of competition.

“Consecration” (IFC Films) – Feb. 10

Jena Malone stars in the new horror film from Christopher Smith (“Severance,” “Black Death”) playing Grace, who travels to a Scottish convent where her priest brother fell to his death in hopes of learning the truth about what happened.

“Sharper” (Apple) – Feb. 10

Julianne Moore, Sebastian Stan, Justice Smith and Briana Middleton star in the feature film directorial debut by theater and television director Benjamin Caron (“The Crown”), an anthology film involving relationships and confidence games that offers tons of twists and turns.

“Huesera: The Bone Woman” (XYZ Films) – Feb. 10

Mexican filmmaker Michelle Garza Cervera‘s horror film about a woman (played by Natalia Solián) concerned that the baby she is expecting has been cursed by a sinister entity. The movie has won many awards on the festival circuit over the past year.

“Emily” (Bleecker Street) – Feb. 17

Actress Frances O’Connor makes her directorial debut in this drama starring recent BAFTA nominee Emma Mackey as the title character author Emily Bronté, following her journey to womanhood, before dying at the young age of 30.

“Return to Seoul” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Feb. 17

Davy Chou’s drama, which was Cambodia’s Oscar submission, follows Ji-Min Park as “Freddie,” a 25-year-old French woman who returns to Korea to look for her biological parents.

“The Quiet Girl” (Super Ltd.) – Feb. 24

Directed by Colm Bairéad, Ireland’s Oscar submission, which received an Oscar nomination in the International Feature category, follows a neglected girl in 1981 Ireland who is separated from her dysfunctional family to live with fosters for the summer.

That’s it for the shortest month of the year, but check back towards the end of February for our March box office preview.

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