Box Office Report: 'Ant-Man' Debuts At Top, But Is It As Strong As 'Trainwreck'?

Box Office Report: 'Ant-Man' Debuts At Top, But Is It As Strong As 'Trainwreck'?

Jul 20, 2015

Here's your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. Ant-Man - $58.0 million ($58.0 million total)

2. Minions - $50.2 million ($216.6 million total)

3. Trainwreck - $30.2 million ($30.2 million total)

4. Inside Out - $11.6 million ($306.3 million total)

5. Jurassic World - $11.4 million ($611.1 million total)

6. Terminator Genisys - $5.4 million ($80.6 million total)

7. Magic Mike XXL - $4.5 million ($58.6 million total)

8. The Gallows - $4.0 million ($18.0 million total)

9. Ted 2 - $2.7 million ($77.4 million total)

10. Mr. Holmes - $2.4 million ($2.4 million total)

The Big Stories

Would Marvel Studios wind up on top with a movie about their tiniest hero yet? Or could rising comedic star Amy Schumer dominate with a film many are calling the summer's best comedy? Meanwhile, Jurassic World is eying another major box office record while Pixar's Inside Out continues to be one of the animation house's most successful movies to date. Let's take a closer look...

 

Ant-Size Gross Or Ant-Strong Gross?


Sure, Iron Man was not as well known either but Marvel kicked off the summer of 2008 with its unique casting choice and it outgrossed the first Indiana Jones film in 19 years. Who the heck saw Guardians of the Galaxy doing what it did last summer? (p.s. Guardians is still the only Marvel film to not feature Iron Man or Spider-Man to make over $300 million.) So what was really expected of Ant-Man that could make anyone this weekend think it's some kind of disappointment?

On one hand Ant-Man had what some may think is in the lower echelon of Marvel movie-universe openings, just above those Incredible Hulk and Fantastic Four films that no one talks about. On the other, of the 38 films that have hit theaters with a connection to Marvel (according to Box Office Mojo), 28 of them have opened to $50 million or more. Anything below that would certainly have registered a disappointment. Granted, it did not crack the Top 20 where Hulk and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had $62.1 & $62 million weekends, respectively. Sure it is the lowest "Marvel" opening since The Wolverine in 2013. And where did that open? Late July. Not the May summer kickoff, nor even the start-summer-early slot in April. But so what? It has made another $56 million overseas for $114 million total.

Ant-Man was certainly one of the mysteries of the summer. Some of us saw it opening just as it did while the tracking numbers seemed to rise and rise as the days to its release went on, placing it over $70 million as reviews were suddenly better than expected. There was also some positivity after $6.4 million in Thursday night previews. To give a small sample size on those numbers

Godzilla - $9.3 million (Thursday) / $93.1 million (Friday-Sunday)
Transformers: Age of Extinction - $8.8 / $100.0
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - $8,700,000 / $91.6
Iron Man 2 - $7,500,000 / $128.1
Thor: The Dark World - $7,100,000 / $85.7

Ant-Man - $6.4 / $58.0
Rise of the Planet of the Apes - $4.1 / $54.8
Captain America: The First Avenger - $4.0 / $65.0
The Wolverine - $4.0 / $53.1

It would have been interesting to see how Ant-Man would have fared if it had been marketed more for families. The end result is clearly more of a "PG" film but in an effort to make sure they don't alienate their base, Marvel took no issue with the MPAA going on autopilot and giving the film a "PG-13" rating. (Watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier and tell me this deserved the same rating.) Ant-Man received an "A" rating from Cinemascore; the 12th movie of 2015 to do so. When looking at a list of films to receive such a rating AND open in the $56-66 million range, an interesting pattern begins to emerge. They include Brave, WALL-E, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Cars, Despicable Me and Marvel's Big Hero 6. All animated. All family-oriented. All with at least a 3.54 multiple from their opening weekend.

That would give Ant-Man $205 million at the U.S. box office and 16th on the Marvel list -- behind two Avengers films, three Iron Mans & X-Mens, four Spider-Mans plus the Guardians, a Captain America and the aforementioned Big Hero 6... but also ahead of both Thor movies. How could one not be satisfied with that? On the other hand, putting it squarely between this year's similar openings of Cinderella and Home, Ant-Man's multiple would be more around 3.06 and $177 million, but those films were also spring releases and did not have the benefit of higher weekday numbers. The family audience is what Marvel should be after now with Ant-Man. It already helped reduce the Minions audience by more than half. They better just hope they're not lining up for Pixels next week.

 

Trainwreck Is Just A Title

No one can deny that Judd Apatow has been at the forefront of theatrical comedies for the past decade. Since his directorial debut of The 40 Year-Old Virgin, which turned Steve Carell into a star and helped save The Office from cancellation, some of the best comedic efforts have boasted his name somewhere in the credits.

Just look at this list of Judd Apatow-related openings:

Talladega Nights ($47.0), Superbad ($33.0), Step Brothers ($30.9), Knocked Up ($30.6), Trainwreck ($30.2), Anchorman ($28.4), Bridesmaids ($26.2), Anchorman 2 ($26.2), Pineapple Express ($23.2), Funny People ($22.6), The 40-Year-Old Virgin ($21.4)

$30 million is also quite the impressive big-screen debut for Amy Schumer, but also maybe more impressive considering the upswing this year in films to feature women as their central character. In 2014 only four films (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Maleficent, Divergent and The Fault In Our Stars) were amongst the Top 20 openers. In 2015 so far we have Inside Out, Fifty Shades of Grey, Pitch Perfect 2, Cinderella, Insurgent, Home, Mad Max: Fury Road, Spy and now Trainwreck. Those last two may not last as the year plays out but Trainwreck will likely be on pace to join them all in the $100 million club. That's nine in total and its only July. Of the 33 movies to gross $100 million in 2014, only seven featured females as their central protagonists (and that's including Gone Girl.)

 

Tales of the Top Ten

It took until this weekend but milestones were reached. Jurassic World hit $600 million and Inside Out hit $300 million. The dinosaurs will be passing Marvel's The Avengers next weekend to become the highest-grossing non-James Cameron film in U.S. history. Then it becomes all about Titanic-watch for Colin Trevorrow's film. Will Jurassic World have another $47 million in it? Inside Out only needs another $33 million to pass Finding Nemo and make it to #2 on the all-time Pixar list.

Universal's Minions also reached $200 million, but it's the next milestone they want for it. Meanwhile they can take comfort that of the six summer films to post a profit for their studios so far, Universal boasts three of them. Minions with over $500 million worldwide is the 7th most profitable film of 2015 already. Ted 2, on the other hand, is the third biggest loser of the summer at the moment.

WB's Magic Mike XXL may not have done the numbers of the original but it can take solace that it's next up on the list to grab a profit for its studio this summer; the second after San Andreas; currently 10th on the year versus its budget.

Though The Gallows reportedly only cost $100,000 to make, other reports show that advertising put the final budget at around $22 million, which would make it one of the rare losers for Blumhouse.


As for limited releases, Woody Allen's Irrational Man opened with just $118,000 on 5 screens. The film is his weakest-scored at 48% since To Rome With Love's 44%.

Bollywood nearly struck the top ten once again as Bajrangi Bhaijaan made $2.4 million. (Baahubali: The Beginning was ninth last week with $3.5 million.)

Roadside Attractions busted into the Top Ten for the second time this summer. Love & Mercy turned out to be their third highest grossing film to date (behind Mud & A Most Wanted Man) and now Mr. Holmes is hoping to join in on the fun.

Take a look at some of Roadside's more comparable openings:

A Most Wanted Man ($2.6 million / 361 theaters), Mr. Holmes ($2.4 / 363), Mud ($2,2 / 363), Love & Mercy ($2.1 / 481), Friends with Kids ($2.01 / 369), Arbitrage ($2.00) / 197), Bella ($1.32 / 165), Good Hair ($1.03 / 186), Emperor ($1.01 / 260)

They may not be Marvel numbers, but they're certainly more comfortable with those than Paramount can be with the ones for Terminator Genisys. Even with over $260 million worldwide it's unlikely to catch Terminator Salvation's $371 million. At just $80 million through this weekend, Genisys is also $25 million behind Salvation's U.S. pace. It may try to limp its way to $100 million, but it's also fixing to be not just one of the bombs of the summer (ahead of just Tomorrowland) but also of the year.


- Erik Childress can be heard each week on the WGN Radio Podcast evaluating box office with Nick Digilio.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]

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