Ant-Man and the Wasp is proving anything but tiny in its box-office debut.
In yet another victory for Disney and Marvel, the latest summer tentpole grossed $33.8 million on Friday from 4,206 theaters for a projected North American debut of $80 million-$83 million.
That’s well ahead of the $57.2 million collected by Ant-Man on its first weekend in summer 2015. The sequel nabbed an A- CInemaScore, compared to an A for the first film.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is easily trouncing the competition, including horror offering The First Purge, which opened on July Fourth to get a jump on the superhero tentpole.
A record heat wave gripping Los Angeles and other parts of Southern California could benefit films across the board on Saturday. On Friday, seven of the top 10 grossing theaters — led by an AMC multiplex in Burbank — were in California, while Los Angeles was up by 18 percent.
The superhero sequel is the 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and flies into theaters following the staggering success of Avengers: Infinity War earlier this summer and Black Panther in February. Currently, the Ant-Man sequel boasts an 87 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Peyton Reed (The Break-Up) returns to direct, reuniting him Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly. 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 Ant-Man and the Wasp.
The sequel is set between the events in Captain America: Civil War and Infinity War, and sees Ant-Man and the Wasp embarking on a new mission from van Dyne’s father and SHIELD inventor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to find his wife and Hope’s mother (Michelle Pfeiffer).
Ant-Man and the Wasp opens in roughly 45 percent of the foreign marketplace timed to its U.S. launch.
Universal and Blumhouse’s The First Purge, opening July Fourth, earning $6.1 million on Friday from 3,021 theaters for a projected five-day debut of $32 million, including $18.5 million for the weekend. The pic received a B- CinemaScore, a good grade for a horror title.
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. Platinum Dunes shares producing duties. The film — tapping into the current political climate — is a prequel explaining the origins of the annual “Purge,” a 12-hour period during which it’s legal to commit any crime, including murder. Tracking shows the movie appealing to younger, diverse moviegoers.
Gerard McMurray directed The First Purge 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 prequel, which also launches this week in its first 27 international markets.
The First Purge is holding at No. 4 behind Ant-Man and the Wasp, Incredibles 2 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Incredibles 2 — which passed up Finding Dory this weekend to become the top-grossing Pixar title of all time in North America, not adjusted for inflation — and Jurassic World 2 are in a close race for No. 2 with a projected $31 million-$32 million each. In summer 2016, Finding Dory grossed $486.3 million domestically.
In July 2016, The Purge: Election Year debuted to $31.5 million domestically.
For the weekend, The First Purge is looking at a fourth-place finish behind Ant-Man 2, fellow Universal title Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Disney/Pixar’s Incredibles 2.
New offerings at the specialty box office include Annapurna’s dramedy Sorry to Bother You, about a black telemarketer in Oakland who adopts a white accent. The movie looks to score the best screen average of the weekend — $43,452 — as it bows in 16 theaters. Written and directed by hip-hop recording artist Boots Riley in his directorial debut, the film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
July 6, 1 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
July 7, 7:45 a.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates and Friday grosses.