Box Office Preview: “Ant-Man” Enters Weekend as Marvel’s Underdog

"Ant-Man" (2015) - Marvel Studios - We Live Film

Marvel’s “Ant-Man” in Dead Heat with “Minions”

by Matt Marshall

Until last weekend, Ant-Man was a shoo-in to become Marvel’s 12th film to top the box office. After all, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has broken box office records time and time again. That doesn’t necessarily mean its perfect track record will alway stay intact. Even Pixar’s luck ran out a few weeks ago as Inside Out fell short of dethroning Jurassic World its opening weekend.

Minions was a powerhouse last weekend with a $115 million, almost raking in the biggest animated opening in history. Shrek the Third still hold that record with $121.6 million. Going up against Minions’ second weekend does not guarantee Ant-Man a weekend win on Sunday.

Coming off Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man seemed at first like an afterthought. The first trailer was met with so-so reactions. Plus Edgar Wright’s departure as director left some fans in an uproar. The second trailer, however, heightened interest, hinting at another comedic Marvel movie along the lines of last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Add on top of that, parallels to the original Iron Man as a straightforward origin story. There may be hope for Ant-Man yet.

To Ant-Man’s disadvantage, the latest Marvel film is only opening in about 3,700 theaters on Friday. That would mark a lowest theater count for the MCU since 2008’s The Incredible Hulk (3,505 theaters). Eerily enough, Ant-Man is in a similar position Captain America: The First Avenger was back in 2011. Captain America came out one week after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, which set the opening weekend record at the time ($169.2 million). But a massive burn-off second weekend, led to The First Avenger taking the weekend.

Don’t expect Minions to freefall 72% like Harry Potter did. Though any drop larger than 55% from last weekend swings the top spot back towards Ant-Man’s way.

Opening 7 p.m. Thursday night in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D engagements, Ant-Man will kick off the weekend with its sights on a probable $65 million debut. That would be on par with the debuts of Captain America: The First Avenger ($65.1 million) and Thor ($65.7 million).

Judd Apatow’s latest comedy Trainwreck also debuts this weekend. Though with Ant-Man and Minions tugging back and forth over that top spot, the Apatow film may get lost in the shuffle with a third place start.

Trainwreck stars Amy Schumer as career-minded woman, taught that monogamy is impossible. That is, until she meets Bill Hader, a sports doctor who shows her otherwise.

As a director, Apatow hasn’t cracked the century mark since Knocked Up in 2007. Funny People debuted with $22.7 million in 2009. His last film, This Is 4o got off to a rough start with $11.6 million during the 2012 holidays. Trainwreck has been well-received so far by critics. With light-hearted sequels like Ted 2 and Magic Mike XXL underperforming this summer, Trainwreck could steal a little thunder. By Sunday, Trainwreck could be on course for a debut just over $20 million.

Box Office Projections

1. Ant-Man (Buena Vista) – $66.1 million (NR)

2. Minions (Universal) – $58.4 million (1)

3.  Trainwreck (Universal) – $21.4 million (NR)

4. Inside Out (Buena Vista) – $10.2 million (3)

5. Jurassic World (Universal) – $10.1 million (2)

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