Ant-Man will loom large at the global box office this weekend with an anticipated haul of $115M-$125M, but stateside, the Disney/Marvel superhero is in a staring contest with Universal/Illumination Entertainment’s Minions. Ant-Man is set to have a weekend in the low-$60Ms at an estimated 3,800 theaters with some extra swelling powers from 3,100 3D locales, 361 Imax hubs, 388 premium large format and 133 Dbox locations. Overseas, it’s in 50 territories.
However, the little yellow beans coming off of a super-green opening of $115.7M, are guaranteed to hold quite well in the U.S., declining 48%-51%, which would give them a second frame of $57M-$60M. And with family films performing strongly, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Minions takes some wind out of Ant-Man and nabs No. 1. Marvel’s tiny superhero begins to buzz around at 7 PM Thursday in a majority of its playdates. Ant-Man‘s anticipated global bow puts it ahead of 2011’s Thor‘s first worldwide weekend ($108.7M).
Universal also is opening Judd Apatow’s R-rated femme comedy Trainwreck, written by and starring stand-up comedian and TV personality Amy Schumer. Industry estimates see the film in the mid-to-high teens at 3,153 theaters, with a potential shot at $20M. Thursday shows start at 8 PM. Among the onslaught of female product this summer, read Pitch Perfect 2 & Magic Mike XXL, Trainwreck is a fresh voice with a hot up-and-coming star who has a Comedy Central show (Inside Amy Schumer) as its poster girl. Older females are the dominant demo in the U.S., tracking at 65%, with under-25 showing a 61% total awareness. Uni got the word out early on Trainwreck with a screening at SXSWback in March, a traditional launchpad for Apatow comedies. The current Rotten Tomatoes score is 95% from 19 reviews. Last month, Schumer hit the road with fellow stand-ups Dave Attell, Vanessa Bayer, Mike Birbiglia and Colin Quinn in The Trainwreck Comedy Tour to promote the film and raise money for various charities in stops such as Boston, New York, Toronto, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles.
A $60M opening for a frosh Marvel superhero isn’t a bad one by any means: Captain America: The First Avenger bowed to $65.05M and Thor opened to $65.7M, and both titles went on to launch franchises. So how do a bunch of fresh-faced superheroes — those in Guardians Of The Galaxy — strike an opening of $94.3M and Ant-Man does not? Says one rival distributor, “Guardians was a much bigger concept.” Ant-Man currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 74%. DC’s Batman has the grip on July with powwow bows, read 2008’s The Dark Knight ($158.4M) and 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises ($160.9M).
Stateside, Ant-Man is showing its strongest total awareness with men at 90% and the under-25 at 88%. Females are at 81%. At last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel showed footage of Ant-Man wearing and flying around in his suit, with the top-billed cast making an appearance. With Marvel films absent this year from the fanboy confab, Ant-Man‘s presence film-wise largely was relegated to banners hanging throughout the Gaslamp District, though various panels — read Marvel comic book and video came sessions as well as Costa Communications’ third annual Musical Anatomy of the Superhero composer panel (with Ant-Man composer Christophe Beck) — were active in showing Ant-Man footage.
Ant-Man begins its international rollout today with France bowing first. It’s not common to open on a Tuesday, but Disney is taking advantage of the Bastille Day holiday. By the end of the weekend, it will cover roughly 50% of the offshore footprint. Key markets aside from France are the UK, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and Russia. Oftentimes, Disney will release a Marvel (or other) film abroad prior to its stateside release, but the current competitive landscape doesn’t lend itself to such a plan. And, apart from today’s French holiday, there were no key holidays to hit. That makes this rollout more comparable to Guardians Of The Galaxy.
That film was also based on a lesser-known faction of the Marvel universe and starred an actor unproven internationally in Chris Pratt. Paul Rudd, who shrinks down to play the titular superpower-engineered eusocial insect, hasn’t previously led a major offshore hit, but he’s known to audiences abroad for roles in such features as Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and, more recently, Anchorman 2. His turn as Phoebe’s boyfriend and then husband in Friends also lifts his profile given the beloved series is still on a repeat loop throughout the world. Ant-Man, antennae down, will be his biggest international release of all time.
GOTG played up the unique and tongue-in-cheek aspects of the premise and characters, and Ant-Man has a similar feel with the same elements being highlighted overseas. The film screened for exhibitors at CineEurope in Barcelona last month, where the jokes hit their mark. Reviews thus far have been positive. Guardians ultimately outperformed both Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World. In other Marvel comps, Captain America: The Winter Soldier topped out at just over $450M international, slightly ahead of GOTG.
Looking at the first Thor along with GOTG and Winter Soldier, those films opened to $43M, $57M and $67M in the same suite of markets where Ant-Man is crawling out this frame. That puts expectations at around $55M-$60M. Other major titles still playing internationally include Minions, Inside Out and Terminator: Genisys while there are no major releases set for this week apart from the debut of Pixels in one market – Korea – where Ant-Man is not yet bowing.
Along with the CineEurope bow, Marvel’s social pages have been well-utilized to build Ant-icipation. A payoff trailer also debuted with Avengers: Age Of Ultron, which has topped $933M internationally. There’s also been an extensive partnership with Twitter as well as a Shazam activation in the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Australia, Brazil and Japan. What’s more, footage has been programmed at Disneyland Paris and on Disney cruise ships.
For his part, Rudd has been out with the film on a two-day global press junket with the rest of the cast which includes Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lily and Corey Stoll. He’s also done press for Latin American, Australian and Taiwanese outlets.