6th Writethru, Sunday: Disney is seeing Ant-Man and the Wasp landing near the lower end of its tracking with an estimated $76M which is $500K shy of where rivals see it after a $23.6M Saturday that’s 31% down from Friday, a sharper decline than many were expecting which was around -15%.

This now marks a 33% improvement upon the first Ant-Man‘s $57.2M opening, which turned around a 3.1x for a $180M final domestic. The multiple on Ant-Man and the Wasp is forecasted to be lower at 2.75x, but that will still get the super insects over $200M stateside. Even though the sequel is coming in lower than what many were anticipating yesterday, it’s still a win for Disney in that they expanded the superheroes’ commercial prospects, granted not to lofty results. Imax repped close to 8% of Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s stateside till with $6M at 403 screens. Seven of the top 10 runs were Imax locations. Disney’s weekend is further amplified by Pixar’s Incredibles 2 which at $504.2M became the highest grossing animated film of all-time at the domestic B.O., topping Finding Dory‘s $486.2M.

Worldwide start of $161M for Ant-Man and the Wasp is better than the $155M that Nancy and I estimated. Despite the lower than expected domestic start, finance sources believe that the Marvel sequel will certainly profit with a potential $100M at the end of the day with overseas being better than expected. A WW end of $600M is still foreseeable off Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s estimated $162M production cost.

“We’re buzzing,” beamed Cathleen Taff, Disney President of Theatrical Distribution, Franchise Management and Business & Audience Insights.

A few things to remember, Ant-Man is a deeper universe character who is not as popular as Spider-Man (i.e. his Homecoming reboot last summer posted the series’ second best with $117M), and he doesn’t have the pop, snap, dazzle nor sublime soundtrack of fellow MCU sibling Guardians of the Galaxy, rather he plays it straight down the middle (in all fairness, many fans consider Guardians of the Galaxy in its riveting storytelling akin to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back). In addition, we’ve seen this mid to upper-mid-level rise in openings before in the MCU: The original Thor in May 2011 opened to $65.7M and saw a 30% uptick in its opening with 2013’s Thor: The Dark World at $85.7M before its threequel Ragnarok was re-imagined by Taika Waititi with a $122.7M opening last year.

In addition, Ant-Man skews toward families: Similar to the original, the sequel brought in 28% of that demo. Over 25 crowd numbered 58%, 55% male.

There was a lot of heat heading into the weekend on our end thinking this Ant-Man and the Wasp would overindex because of the great reviews, because it’s following Avengers: Infinity War (and the epilogue nods to that pic’s ending), and because of the weekend’s insane heatwave in Los Angeles where temperatures are exceeding 100 degrees.

In fact the whole west coast heat wave could have hindered grosses this weekend. The temperatures were so high, and creepy with fear of power outages in Los Angeles that some were concerned about leaving their homes. Overall Saturday seemed softer business wise per distribution heads and they peg that too, yes, the west coast heatwave, but it was also a travel day post July 4.

“Coming off the halo of Infinity War, the marketing team gave Ant-Man and the Wasp some elevation. This is a sequel where people know the character from the original and Captain America: Civil War and having The Wasp in the title, people were eager to see her. They utilized her, had a lot of fun and humor with the materials and riffed off of where we were in Infinity War. They did some fun things in the materials that expanded the conversation,” said Taff.

The first sight of Ant-Man and the Wasp was seen at San Diego Comic-Con last year where it a clip revealed that Michelle Pfeiffer (remember, she has comic book movie street cred as Catwoman in Batman Returns) would be starring in the film after her interview with Paul Rudd and Michael Pena. On January 29, there was a tiny teaser tune-in from the Black Panther premiere live stream about the next day’s trailer release, which aired with a 30-second look on Good Morning America tossing to a full trailer online. The teaser trailer/poster debuted theatrically with Black Panther.

Sequel’s star Evangeline Lilly debuted a payoff poster on social on the Monday after Infinity War‘s opening, timed to launch of fun content piece with the Avengers cast asking the question “where were Ant-Man and The Wasp?”. That too was a tune-in for next-day trailer launch on May 1 online, which also aired during the superhero finales for Supergirl, Agents of Shield, The Flash. The trailer debuted theatrically on Deadpool 2. Third trailer was a more family-focused piece that ran on Incredibles 2. Promotional partners included Hyundai, Dell, Synchrony, and Sprint. In regards to media placement for the sequel, there was an E3 integration with IGN; gamer surround with Fortnite and Twitch; World Cup; Father’s Day surround and ticketing stunt; Bachelorette primetime event & stunt with Rudd and Lilly; Tiny SportsCenter and set takeover on ESPN; WWE takeover; and more.

Universal/Blumhouse’s The First Purge arrived in 4th place quite well with a $17.1M 3-day and 5-day of $31M, toward the middle of its $25M-$35M tracking. The $13M R-rated production was built for the franchise fans, and 54% males turned out with 51% under 25.

“Blumhouse, Purge creator James DeMonaco and director Gerard McMurray kept this fourth film very fresh, relevant, and the results really speak for themselves,” says Universal domestic distribution president Jim Orr.

In regards to why The First Purge opened over the Independence Day stretch again like The Purge: Election Year two years ago was due to the prequel’s tone which leaned into the contentious political times. “The marketing and the release date programming paid off handsomely,” said Orr.

The theater average for Annapurna’s Sorry to Bother You has grown to $44,8K and is now the fourth best limited per screen of the year. Overall weekend is $717,3K at 16 runs. Three summers ago, Open Road had a great African American festival fave Dope which they acquired with Sony for $7M, and they dropped the ball: Rather than tee the fresh-face teen musical comedy up on the specialty circuit, and gain some momentum for a crossover, they aggressively went wide in a summer that included Jurassic World and Inside Out and crashed and burned the movie with a $6.1M opening and $17.5M take — a lost opportunity.  Annapurna knows that they have something special on their hands with Boots Riley’s telemarketer fantasy story starring Lakeith Stanfield and Westworld and Thor: Ragnarok‘s Tessa Thompson and their intent is to ensure it finds a great audience. The distributor bought the film out of Sundance for a competitive seven-figure price. Sorry to Bother You will expand 600-800 runs this coming weekend, with a further expansion on July 20. This wild ride of a movie scored 84% overall positive in the top two boxes with an awesome 72% definite recommend. Overall audience is skewing 54% female to 46% male. Caucasian/non-Caucasian split was 51%/49%. Under 35 crowd turned out at 56% while the largest quad was 25-34 with 42%.

Roadside Attractions and Miramax’s Whitney Houston doc Whitney sang $1.25M at 452 locations, earning an A CinemaScore and a certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes of 90%. The opening weekend audience was 65% female, of which 35% were females 25-49.  24% were women over the age of 50. Next to other Houston docs and the Lifetime TV movie, this doc is billed as being a no-holds barred one. Whitney was directed by Oscar-winning One Day in September documentarian and filmmaker Kevin Macdonald. By comparison to another music doc during the summer: A24’s Amy in its wide expansion at 341 theaters in weekend 2 posted $1.7M, while in weekend 3 at 435 made $1.1M before a final domestic (and Oscar win) of $8.4M.

The top 10 per studio-reported estimates this morning:

thumb rank film dist scrs(chg) fri sat sun 3-day total week
1 Ant-Man and The Wasp Dis 4,206 $33.8M $23.6M $18.6M $76M $76M 1
2 incredibles 2 Dis 4,113 (-297) $9.8M $10.8M $8.4M $29M (-38%) $504.3M 4
3 JW: Fallen Kingdom Uni 4,349 (-136) $9.1M $10.9M $8.4M $28.6M (-53%) $333.3M 3
4 The First Purge Uni 3,031 $6M $6.3M  $4.7M $17.1M $31M 1
5 Sicaro…Soldado Sony/BLM 3,055 $2.3M $2.9M $2M $7.3M (-61%) $35.3M 2
6 Uncle Drew LG 2,742 $2.1M $2.6M  $1.9M $6.6M
(-57%)
$29.9M 2
7 Ocean’s 8 WB/VR 2,604 (-822) $1.6M $2M  $1.6M $5.3M (-37%) $126.7M 5
8 Tag NL/WB 2,157 (-1,019) $965K $1.1M $950K $3.1M (-47%) $48.3M 4
9 Won’t You…Neighbor? Foc 893 (+239) $782K $978K $831K $2.59M (+7%) $12.3M 5
10 Deadpool 2 Fox 1,267 (-827) $520K $665K $490K  $1.68M (-53%) $314.5M 8
Ant-Man And The Wasp
Disney

5TH Writethru, Saturday after Friday 11:44 PM post: Overall a respectable opening for Disney/Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp this weekend with projections currently showing an $82.4M 3-day which is 44% higher than the original title’s $57.2M opening. In addition Wasp‘s ticket sales are besting the low-end of tracking’s $75M forecast.

This is a situation that every distribution boss craves: Having a sequel improve greatly upon the original’s opening weekend results, and increasingly this is only common with Marvel product.

Any fanboy cynic attempting to make an argument that Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s weekend is less than Solo‘s $84.4M 3-day, or under the $93.8M domestic debut of DC’s Justice League is missing the point. Ant-Man and the Wasp wasn’t an off-the-rails production like those movies which were hindered by their $300M-plus shooting costs. Sources tell us that Disney kept the shooting cost for Ant-Man and the Wasp around $162M net –which is lower than other Marvel sequels like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($200M net), Thor: Dark World ($170M) and Thor: Ragnarok‘s ($180M)– with a global P&A spend around $154M. The first Ant-Man profited close to $104M off a $519.3M WW gross and $130M net production cost, and Wasp was hatched to do the same and should be in the black at around $600M-$650M WW.

We’ll see if Saturday pushes Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s weekend higher. Typically, most Marvel movies ease on a Saturday compared to their Friday opening days which are further bulked by Thursday previews. Los Angeles is seeing 100-degree temperatures this weekend, with the San Fernando Valley suffering around 118 degrees. That heat wave is good for the box office, but rainy days are better, so we’re told.

One bittersweet result with Ant-Man and the Wasp is there’s a slight disconnect between audiences and critics. The sequel earned an A- CinemaScore, one of four titles to do so in the 20-title MCU alongside Captain America: The First Avenger, The Incredible Hulk and Thor: Dark World. The first Ant-Man earned an A grade, one of 13 in the MCU (The first Thor owns the lowest CinemaScore with a B+). Critics enjoyed Ant-Man and the Wasp a bit more than the first time around with an 87% certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes score versus the original’s 82%. Still, the CinemaScore and RT here is strong enough to be a catalyst for business.

In regards to demo breakdown, Ant-Man and the Wasp pulled in the same over/under 25 crowd as Ant-Man with 62% over, 38% under. The only difference is that the 25+ demo gave the sequel an A- to their previous A three years ago. Slightly fewer males this time at 58% to 61% last time; however, they stayed faithful, grading Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne an A. The under 18 crowd turned out at 23% giving the pic an A, and the under 25 was equally pleased.

As we already mentioned, Disney is doubling down this weekend as Incredibles 2 officially becomes the highest-grossing Pixar movie and overall animated title at the domestic box office with $507.2M. Universal’s The First Purge with a 5-day of $32.4M is also faring great in regards to its thrifty Blumhouse estimated budget of $13M on the fourthquel.

Annapurna

Big props to Annapurna’s Sundance acquisition Sorry to Bother You which as of this morning looks to be posting the year’s 5th best theater average from a specialty/indie label (not counting big studio releases like Avengers: Infinity War) with $43,4K or $695K at 16 runs. Critics are over the moon for this eclectic fantasy comedy from Boots Riley with The New York Times A.O. Scott declaring, “If Mike Judge’s Office Space and Robert Downey Sr.’s Putney Swope hooked up after a night of bingeing on hallucinogens, Marxist theory and the novels of Paul Beatty and Colson Whitehead, the offspring might look something like this.” Critics loved it with a 94% certified RT score.

While docs have been popping at the summer box office (Focus Features’ Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is in the top 10 again with $2.6M and NEON’s Three Identical Strangers is earning $699K, +307% at 51 locations for a 10-day of $1M), there haven’t been any indie fiction features yet to cross over in the way of such spring releases as Isle of Dogs ($31M) and I Can Only Imagine ($83.4M). Perhaps Sorry to Bother You is bound to break out.

The weekend’s top 10 per industry estimates:

thumb rank film dis. screens (chg) fri 3-day (-%) total wk
1 Ant-Man & The Wasp Dis 4,206 $34M $82.4M  $82.4M 1
2 Incredibles 2 Dis 4,113 (-297) $9.6M (-30%) $31.9M (-31%) $507.2M 4
3 Jurassic World 2 Uni 4,349 (-136) $8.9M (-49%) $31.3M (-49%) $336M 3
4 The First Purge Uni/Blumhouse 3,031 $6M $18.5M $32.4M 1
5 Sicario…Soldado Sony/BLM 3,055 $2.3M (-69%) $7.9M (-58%) $35.9M 2
6 Uncle Drew LG 2,742 $2.1M (-64%) $7M (-54%) $30.3M 2
7 ocean’s 8 WB/VR 2,604 (-822) $1.7M (-28%) $5.8M (-30%) $127.3M 5
8 Tag NL/WB 2,157 (-1,019) $951K (-45%) $3.2M (-45%) $48.4M 4
9 Won’t You…Neighbor? Foc 893 (+239) $752K (+15%) $2.6M (+9%) $12.4M 5
10 Deadpool 2 Fox 1,267 (-583) $514K (-49%) $1.8M (-50%) $314.6M 8

3RD UPDATE, Friday midday: Ant-Man and the Wasp at this moment is buzzing toward a $85 million-$95 million opening, which is the spectrum in between Doctor Strange ($85M, 2016) and Guardians of the Galaxy ($94.3M, 2014). Today is looking at around $35M, with that $11.2M Thursday preview number included in the figure. These are industry estimates, not from Disney. As is typical with Marvel films, we’re looking at a higher result by Friday night, even by Saturday night.

Universal’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom eyeing $8.5M today, for a third weekend near $30M in second place, -51% and a running total of $334.7M.

Incredibles 2
Disney

Disney/Pixar’s Incredibles 2 is notching an $8M Friday, $26.5M for its fourth weekend in third and a $501.8M stateside gross; it’s the highest-grossing Pixar movie ever in the U.S./Canada. Another great Disney weekend.

Universal/Blumhouse’s The First Purge is expected to take fourth with a $16.6M three-day and $30.5M five-day. Today should be around $6M.

Sony/Black Label Media’s Sicario: Day of the Soldado is hanging in fifth with an estimated $9.7M, off 49% in Weekend 2, with a 10-day of $37.3M.

More updates later.

UPDATED, Friday AM: Disney has reported its Thursday night preview number for Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, with the Paul Rudd-Evangeline Lilly superhero movie earning $11.5 million. That’s just above where we projected it, and a Thursday night that’s higher than the original Ant-Man ($6.4M), Doctor Strange ($9.4M), Guardians of the Galaxy ($11.2M) and even Warner Bros/DC’s Wonder Woman ($11M).

Wonder Woman really isn’t the comp since that brought in a groundswell of females heading toward a $38.2M Friday and $103.2M weekend. Should Ant-Man and the Wasp emulate Guardians of the Galaxy, thoughit would mean that last night repped 30% of today’s ticket sales. Guardians made $37.8M on its first Friday including Thursday night previews for a three-day total of $94.3M. A weekend return like that for AMATW is well above tracking’s $75M-$85M.

Critics enjoyed GOTG a little more than AMATW, 91% certified fresh to 87% certified fresh, but it’s obvious there’s plenty of love here for the latter.

Among regular released titles, Incredibles 2 and Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom were in a near photo finish yesterday, $7.13M versus $7.07M, with the latter Uni title roaring past the three-century mark with $304.7M. Incredibles 2 stands at $475.3M and will easily topple Finding Dory’s $486.2M this weekend to become the highest-grossing Pixar title of all-time at the domestic box office.

The First Purge”
Universal

Universal/Blumhouse’s The First Purge made $4.6M last night, off 51%, for a two-day take of $13.9M. Early week forecasts had the movie between $25M-$35M for its Wednesday-Sunday run.

Social media monitor RelishMix observes that The First Purge has a loyal audience, and the campaign is reaching those fans. Like The Purge: Election Year, the pic’s campaign has leveraged moments of the current political climate.

Following the State of the Union address in January, there was a “Purge announcement,” styled like a propaganda video and aired on ABC, NBC, MSNBC and CNN. TV spots for the pic ran during major sporting events including the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals and the World Cup. The First Purge was also screened during the American Black Film Festival to a standing ovation, with director Gerard McMurray and cast participating in a panel discussion. Uni launched Girls Trip at the American Black Film Festival last year.

The pic’s social media universe counts a good 92 million followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube views. Pop star Siya is the social media star with close to 800K followers and she’s been posting behind-the-scenes materials for fans. The First Purge‘s viral video rate is 25:1, far beyond the usual horror movie’s 13:1. But the pic’s daily average YouTube views for this film’s top clips are hovering around 13K, while the standard is near 42K. The First Purge trailer, which debuted in April, has clocked north of 50M views.

PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, Friday, 6:54 PM: After repping close to 22% of the year’s current $6.35 billion domestic box office with Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel is looking to score an even bigger share of 2018’s ticket sales this weekend with its 20th title Ant-Man and the WaspVery early projections from Deadline sources show that the Peyton Reed-directed sequel is off to a fantastic start with an estimated $11M, with some sources believing the movie could see an even bigger growth spurt north of $13M+.

First of all, Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s Thursday night is well ahead of its original 2015 chapter which turned in a $6.4M preview night, $22.6M Friday and $57.2M opening. At the time many pegged the movie’s lower than usual Marvel opening to the fact that he was a deeper universe character, not to mention the pic skewed toward families at roughly 30%. Some tracking services have estimated at the high end that Ant-Man and the Wasp could post an $85M opening on par with Doctor Strange. Already, Ant-Man and the Wasp is besting that pic’s November preview night of $9.4M. That figure repped close to 29% of its $32.6M Friday.

Should Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s Thursday stay around $11M, it will also be in line with that of Guardians of the Galaxy ($11.2M Thursday, $37.8M Friday, $94.3M opening).

A year ago, Marvel partnered with Sony on Spider-Man: Homecoming  which posted a $15.4M Thursday, $50.7M Friday and a $117M opening. Advance ticket sales on Fandango saw Ant-Man and the Wasp ahead of Doctor Strange, while all advance ticket sales combined spotted the sequel near Homecoming.  

Disney started Ant-Man and the Wasp early at 6PM tonight in respective time zones. West coast shows fired up about an hour ago. Theater chains such as AMC are showing an Ant-Man double feature. The pic plays in 4,206 theaters tomorrow, made up of 3,000 3D venues, 400+ Imax auditoriums, 660+ premium large format screens and 220+ D-Box/4D locations. The sequel’s Rotten Tomatoes score has also sprouted from 83% certified fresh to 88%, ahead of the original movie’s 82%. Tonight’s estimates are exclusive to Deadline, so if another trade reports on them — they got ’em from us. As we always say, tonight’s forecast doesn’t come from Disney, and there’s also the chance tonight’s ticket sales could come in higher or lower than our projection by Friday morning.