Superhero film “Ant-Man” topped the weekend with $58 million, marking the 12th consecutive Marvel film to open in first place.
Going into the weekend, “Ant-Man” was expected to open with up to $65 million, much like Marvel’s 2011 titles “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Thor." However, Disney adjusted its tracking expectations on Saturday evening after news of severe weather in parts of the Midwest and rain in Southern California, which likely slowed weekend grosses.
Instead, the film’s opening is on par with Marvel’s “The Incredible Hulk,” which launched with $55 million in the United States and Canada in 2008. It went on to collect $134.8 million domestically and $236.4 million worldwide.
“You always want to be as big of an opening as possible, but there was a weather impact, not just for our movie, but the market overall," said Dave Hollis, head of distribution at Disney. “We’re off to a good start.”
“Ant-Man,” which reportedly cost $130 million to make, is about a lesser-known comic book hero. The film stars Paul Rudd as the titular character, a thief named Scott Lang and the second superhero to take the name Ant-Man. Lang is given a second chance by the original Ant-Man (Michael Douglas). Together, they help protect the secret behind the Ant-Man suit, which enables its wearer to shrink in size while enjoying increased strength.
“It’s going to take a little more time for this one to find every part of its audience because of it being a less known character,” Hollis added. “But I think the most encouraging thing that we’ve heard is that plenty of people are commenting on how surprised they were by how much they liked it. It’s those kind of endorsements that will bring people back in.”
Moviegoers gave it an A grade from audience polling firm CinemaScore. Males made up the majority of audiences (58%) and 55% of audiences were over the age of 25. Internationally, “Ant-Man” collected $56 million in 27 markets, making the global haul a strong $114 million. An estimated $9.2 million of the global total came from IMAX screens.
With such positive word of mouth, Hollis is confident about the film’s future.
“At the end of the summer, I think we’ll look back and have this be among those surprise hits,” he said. “I expect we’ll have a big, long run.”
Meanwhile, Universal Pictures had three films in the top five this weekend domestically, the first time the studio has accomplished such a feat since 2003.
“Minions" fell 57% in its second weekend to second place. It added $50.2 million to its domestic gross, making its haul to date $216.7 million.
The animated film, featuring the voice of Sandra Bullock as super-villain Scarlet Overkill and co-stars Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney and Steve Coogan, was produced by Universal and Illumination Entertainment for $74 million.
Universal’s “Trainwreck,” directed by Judd Apatow, had a better-than-expected opening, coming in at No. 3 with a solid $30.2 million. The film, which cost $35 million to make, is Apatow’s fifth feature and second-highest opening after the $30.7 million opening for “Knocked Up” in 2007.
“I thought it was going to outpace what tracking indicated,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s head of domestic distribution. "Amy Schumer is a star. And I think Judd has a way of presenting new talent in a way that absolutely gets people motivated to check them out.”
The comedy stars Amy Schumer as a magazine writer struggling with monogamy after meeting a down-to-earth sports doctor (Bill Hader). The film costars Brie Larson, WWE star John Cena, Vanessa Bayer, Mike Birbiglia, Ezra Miller, Dave Attel, Colin Quinn, Tilda Swinton and NBA superstar LeBron James.
Females again flexed their box office might, turning up in masses to see the comedy. An estimated 66% of audiences were female and 63% were ages 30 and up.
Many critics and audiences hailed Schumer’s big screen debut as hilarious. Moviegoers gave the film an A-minus rating on CinemaScore. It racked up an 85% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Coming in at fourth, Pixar’s “Inside Out” added $11.6 million in its fourth weekend at the domestic box office. Its total North American haul is $306.3 million, making it the third-highest grossing Pixar movie of all time behind “Toy Story 3” and “Finding Nemo.”
Universal’s “Jurassic World” crossed the $600-milion mark in North America, adding $11.4 million in its sixth weekend in release.
In limited release, Woody Allen’s dramatic comedy “Irrational Man” debuted in five locations with $188,100, a per theater average of $37,623.
If estimates hold, the box office will be up 30% from the same period last year. Year-to-date, the 2015 box office is already up 8.9%.
For more news on the entertainment industry, follow me @saba_h on Twitter.