Disney-Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp” flew to $11.5 million on Thursday night in North America.
The preview number easily surpasses the original “Ant-Man’s” $6.4 million and tops the $9.4 million for “Doctor Strange” and $11 million for “Wonder Woman.”
“Ant-Man and the Wasp,” the 20th title in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been pegged for a strong domestic debut between $70 million and $80 million when it opens in 4,026 theaters on Friday. Universal’s “The First Purge” got a two-day head start with a respectable $9.3 million at 3,031 North American locations on the Fourth of July.
If estimates hold, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” will launch well ahead of “Ant-Man’s” $57 million domestic opening. That 2015 Marvel title went on to earn $519 million globally, including $180 million at the domestic box office.
Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly reprise their roles as Scott Lang/Ant-Man and Hope van Dyne/The Wasp, respectively, as superheroes able to shrink themselves into the quantum realm. The sequel sees Scott Lang grappling with the consequences of his choices as both a superhero and a father — and being confronted with an urgent new mission by Dr. Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas.
The cast also includes 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 87% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.
“The First Purge” will be battling the third weekend of Universal’s “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” and the fourth frame of Disney-Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” for runner-up behind “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” “Fallen Kingdom” has taken in $297.7 million domestically in its first 13 days and “Incredibles 2” has grossed $468.2 million in 20 days — the 14th-highest mark of all time.
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, for 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.