8:25am PT by Pamela McClintock
Box Office: 'Ant-Man and the Wasp' Buzzes to $76M in U.S., $161M Globally
Ant-Man and the Wasp may have leveled off a bit in its North American box-office debut, but it had no trouble crushing the competition over the weekend with $76 million — coming in 33 percent ahead of the first Ant-Man as Disney and Marvel Studios cement the standing of another stand-alone franchise.
Overseas, the pesky superhero and his new female partner, The Wasp, buzzed to $85 million for a global start of $161 million. The sequel, laced with plenty of comedy, is pacing 45 percent ahead of Ant-Man internationally. South Korea led with a mighty $20.9 million, including previews.
Heading into the weekend, tracking suggested Ant-Man 2 could come in as high as $85 million domestically, while the lower end of the range was $70 million. The summer tentpole saw a dip of 30 percent from Friday to Saturday, helping to explain the film's ultimate opening number.
Moviegoing in Los Angeles didn't seem to be impacted to any great measure by a record-breaking heat wave that sent temperatures past the century mark in many communities. Saturday traffic was down more than expected across the country, prompting some box-office observers to speculate that it was a post-Fourth of July travel day for some.
In summer 2015, the original Ant-Man opened to $57.2 million domestically.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is the 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and flew into theaters following the staggering success of fellow Marvel titles Avengers: Infinity War earlier this summer and Black Panther in February. Ant-Man and the Wasp boasts an 87 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and earned an A- CinemaScore from audiences. Still, it is a smaller property in the Marvel stable.
Peyton Reed (The Break-Up) returned to direct the Ant-Man follow-up, reuniting him with stars Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly. In the pic, Rudd reprises his role as Scott Lang/Ant-Man, while Lilly plays Hope van Dyne/Wasp (her transformation into a superhero was hinted at in the first film). Hannah John-Kamen plays the villain Ghost in the sequel.
According to Disney, 45 percent of the audience was female, a larger share than usual for superhero fare.
"From a diversity perspective, [president] Kevin [Feige] and his team at Marvel have continued to play up all sorts of characters, and all different types of stories. The diversity in their filmmaking resonates with audiences," says Disney distribution chief Cathleen Taff.
"Ant-Man and the Wasp can't be compared to The Avengers or a cultural phenomenon like Black Panther, and we are thrilled with where the film is," Taff continues.
The Disney empire currently lays claim to five of the seven biggest openings of the year, while superheroes in general continue their domination at the 2018 box office.
To boot, Disney scored a second victory over the weekend as Incredibles 2 became the top-grossing animated film of all time in North America after passing fellow Pixar pic Finding Dory (2016), not adjusted for inflation. Incredibles 2 finished Sunday with an estimated $503 million, compared to Finding Dory's $486.3 million final tally.
The weekend haul for Incredibles 2 was an estimated $29 million, putting the family film ahead of Universal's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Abroad, Incredibles 2 added $35.7 million from 39 markets for a foreign cume of $268.4 million and $772.7 million worldwide.
Jurassic World 2 followed at No. 3 domestically with $28.6 million for a total of $333.3 million. Offshore, the dinos earned another $26.7 million for a foreign tally of $725.3 million and a global haul of $1.058 billion after joining the billion-dollar club last week.
Universal and Blumhouse's The First Purge, which opened on July 4 to get a jump on Ant-Man, followed in fourth place domestically with $17.2 million for a five-day debut of $31.1 million, in line with previous outings in the series. The pic received a B- CinemaScore, a good grade for a horror title.
Overseas, The First Purge debuted to $10.9 million from its first 26 markets for a global bow of $42 million.
The First Purge is the fourth outing in the franchise, which has earned more than $330 million at the global box office against a modest production cost. Gerard McMurray directed from a script by James DeMonaco, who wrote and helmed the first three films. Y'Lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Jovian Wade, Luna Lauren Velez and Marisa Tomei star in the pic.
Tapping into the current political climate, the film is a prequel explaining the origins of the annual "Purge," a 12-hour period during which it is legal to commit any crime, including murder. The movie appealed to younger, diverse moviegoers, as Caucasians made up 33 percent of ticket buyers, followed by Hispanics (30 percent) and African-Americans (27 percent).
"The entire series has really tapped into the cultural zeitgeist," says Jim Orr, Universal's president of domestic distribution. "Our audience was definitely more diverse than usual for the genre, and slightly more diverse than previous Purge films."
New offerings at the specialty box office include Annapurna's dramedy Sorry to Bother You, an urban drama about a black telemarketer in Oakland who adopts a white accent. The film debuted to $717,000 for a screen average of $44,831, the best average of the weekend and among the best of the year to date for a limited release. Written and helmed by hip-hop recording artist Boots Riley in his directorial debut, the pic premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival.
Like The First Purge, Sorry to Bother You also played to a notably diverse audience.
"This is a film that Annapurna has been chasing for three years. We go after what we believe in," says Annapurna distribution chief Eric Lomis. "Boots Riley is a fresh voice in Hollywood, and this film has an important message."
Documentaries continued to make headlines at the U.S. box office, where filmmaker Kevin Macdonald's Whitney Houston doc Whitney opened to $1.2 million from 454 theaters following its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Roadside Attractions and Miramax partnered on the film, which earned an A CinemaScore and appealed heavily to females (65 percent), as well as to African-Americans (72 percent).
Whitney placed No. 12, while Won't You Be My Neighbor?, which expanded into a total of 893 theaters, earned a stellar $2.6 million for a domestic total of $12.4 million and came in at No. 9. From Focus Features, the film about the late children's TV personality Fred Rogers passed RBG ($12 million) over the weekend to become the top-grossing documentary of the year to date.