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.