Box Office: ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ Crushes ‘First Purge’ With $76M

Elsewhere, ‘The First Purge’ scares up $31 million, while the new Whitney Houston documentary sings with $1.3 million and ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ becomes the top-grossing doc of the year so far.

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 with $76 million — or coming in 33 percent ahead of the first Ant-Man as Disney and Marvel Studios cement the standing of another standalone 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.

Heading into the weekend, tracking suggested Ant-Man 2 could come in as high $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.

In summer 2015, Ant-Man opened to $57.2 million domestically.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is a 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 2 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, reuniting him with stars Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly. 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 Ant-Man and the Wasp.

The Disney empire now lays claim to five of the seven biggest openings of the year to date, 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 up fellow Pixar film Finding Dory, not adjusted for inflation. Incredibles 2 finished Sunday with an estimated $503 million, compared to $486.3 million for Finding Dory.

The weekend haul for Incredibles 2 was an estimated $29 million, putting the family film ahead of  Universal’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Overseas, 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 global haul of $1.058 billion after joining the billion-dollar club last week.

Universal and Blumhouse’s The First Purge, opening July Fourth 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 expectations. The pic received a B- CinemaScore, a good grade for a horror title.

Overseas, The First Purge debuted to $10.9 million from its first 26 markets for a global bow of $42 million.

The First Purge is the fourth outing in the franchise, which has earned more than $330 million at the global box office against a modest production cost.

Platinum Dunes shares producing duties. The film — tapping into the current political climate — is a prequel explaining the origins of the annual “Purge,” a 12-hour period during which it’s legal to commit any crime, including murder. The movie appealed to younger, diverse moviegoers.

Gerard McMurray directed The First Purge from a script by James DeMonaco, who wrote and helmed the first three films. Y’Lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Jovian Wade, Luna Lauren Velez and Marisa Tomei star in the prequel.

Documentaries continued to make headlines at the U.S. box office, where filmmaker Kevin Macdonald’s Whitney Houston doc Whitney opened to $1.2 million from 454 theaters following its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Roadside Attractions and Miramax partnered on the film, which earned an A CinemaScore and appealed heavily to females (65 percent).

Whitney placed No. 12, while Fred Rogers doc Won’t You Be My Neighbor? expanded into a total of 893 theaters, earning a stellar $2.6 million for a domestic total of $12.4 million and coming in No. 9. From Focus Features, Won’t You Be My Neighbor passed up RBG ($12.3 million) over the weekend to become the top-grossing documentary of the year to date.

New offerings at the specialty box office include Annapurna’s dramedy Sorry to Bother You, about a black telemarketer in Oakland who adopts a white accent. The urban drama debuted to $717K for a screen average of $44,831, the best average of the weekend and among the best of the year to date for a limited release. Written and directed by hip-hop recording artist Boots Riley in his directorial debut, the film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

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