Disney-Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is flying high with an impressive $87 million opening weekend at 4,026 North American locations, early estimates showed Friday.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp,” the 20th title in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appears to be performing ahead of Disney’s recent forecasts in the $70 million to $85 million range. The superhero team-up, starring Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, pulled in a solid $11.5 million on Thursday night.
Universal’s “The First Purge” got a two-day head start with a respectable $14 million at 3,031 North American locations on Wednesday and Thursday. Early estimates placed the fourth iteration of low-cost dystopian horror franchise at $17 million during the Friday-Sunday period.
If estimates hold, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” will launch with the sixth-highest domestic debut of the year. Should it over-perform, it could become the 70th title to hit the $90 million mark in its launch weekend. The sequel will also wind up far ahead of the original “Ant-Man,” which opened with $57 million domestically two years ago. That 2015 Marvel title went on to earn $519 million globally.
Rudd and Lilly reprise their roles as Scott Lang/Ant-Man and Hope van Dyne/The Wasp, respectively — superheroes able to shrink themselves into the quantum realm. The sequel sees Scott Lang grappling with the struggle of being both a superhero and a father.
The cast also includes Michael Douglas, Hannah John-Kamen, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Pena, Walton Goggins, and Bobby Cannavale. Peyton Reed, who oversaw the first film, returns to the director’s chair. Critics have embraced “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” which carries an 86% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. The sequel, which has a reported $130 million budget, is also opening in 48% of international markets this weekend.
“The First Purge” will finish fourth behind the fourth frame of Disney-Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” and the third weekend of Universal’s “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” Early estimates on Friday placed “Incredibles 2” in second with about $35 million, which will lift its total domestic gross to $510 million — surpassing “Beauty and the Beast” for the 11th spot on the all-time North American list.
“Fallen Kingdom” is heading for about $30 million and should wind up the weekend with about $334 million in its first 17 days. That’s about $320 million short of 2015’s “Jurassic Word,” which is sixth on the all-time domestic grosser list. The foreign performance has already lifted “Fallen Kingdom” past the $1 billion worldwide mark.
Sony’s second weekend of “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” will finish a distant fifth with about $8 million, pushing the sequel to about $35 million in its first 10 days.
Disney has dominated the box office this year with three of the top eight domestic debuts of all time: “Avengers: Infinity War” with $257.7 million, “Black Panther” with $202 million, and “Incredibles 2” with $182 million. “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” posted the 20th-highest launch at $148 million and “Deadpool 2” was the 31st-highest at $125.5 million.
It’s the first full weekend of the third quarter following a record-setting second quarter, which saw the domestic box office pull in $3.33 billion thanks to blockbuster performances by “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Incredibles 2,” and “Deadpool 2.” Overall North American moviegoing on the Fourth of July surged 28.5% to $43.5 million, according to comScore — the highest gross for the holiday since 2010’s $44.9 million, led by “Twilight Saga: Eclipse” with $13.2 million.
The summer season has hit $2.4 billion as of July 4 — up 15.6% over last year — and the year-to-date total has surged 8.9% ahead of 2017, with $6.35 billion. The same weekend last year saw strong business with $207.2 million overall when “Spider-Man: Homecoming” opened with $117 million, noted Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore.
“Another Marvel-ous summer weekend is in the cards that will see Disney’s latest superhero extravaganza, ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp,’ joining forces with Universal’s already released horror entry ‘The First Purge’ and a lineup of notable holdovers to power a solid first weekend of July,” he said. “Though last year’s comparable weekend was fittingly led by ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming,’ this weekend will put up strong numbers and keep the summer box office gravy train rolling along and multiplexes buzzing with activity.”