‘Ant-Man’ box office: How does it measure up to Marvel’s mightiest?

21 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Ant-Man’ director: Superhero tale is ‘a street-level story… I hadn’t really seen’ (+video).

Marvel’s Ant-Man punched above its weight at the weekend box office, debuting with an estimated $58 million, while Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck also opened strongly with $30.2 million.’Ant-Man’ stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, a thief who gets a high-tech suit from a scientist (Michael Douglas) and works with the scientist’s daughter (Evangeline Lilly) to take down an adversary with some special technology of his own (Corey Stoll). Perhaps most refreshingly of all, Scott Lang and his miniature antics were largely unburdened by the storytelling pressures of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (These are the same pressures Joss Whedon talked about at length post Avengers: Age of Ultron.) But while the movie may have been mercifully free of any clunky references to Thanos or Infinity Stones, Marvel did take some pains to tie Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly into the larger world of the Avengers. That is a good start for a movie based on a little-known character that cost $130 million to make, but not impressive given the standards Marvel itself has set.

But Ant-Man — a relatively inexpensive superhero movie with a $130 million budget — still dominated North American multiplexes, edging out the little yellow guys of Universal’s Minions, which took in $50.2 million in its second week. After assembling the Avengers – twice – and traveling to space with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios’ latest endeavor seems like a decidedly small affair, yet it took the studio longer to bring the incredible shrinking superhero to the big screen than it did to boot up Iron Man, enlist Captain America, or nail down Thor for their cinematic debuts.

The weekend’s other new film was “Trainwreck,” an inexpensive romantic comedy starring Amy Schumer and directed by Judd Apatow, which debuted to a healthy $30.2 million. The storied history of the “Ant-Man” film goes back eight years when “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuss” director Edgar Wright and writer Joe Cornish were originally attached to the project. The movie, a more humorous heist film, appealed more to women (42 percent of the audience) and families (28 percent) than most Marvel releases. “Most encouragingly in this one, the exit scores we’re seeing from women — their likelihood to recommend and how much they enjoyed the film — was higher here than almost any film we’ve had,” Hollis said. “It’s a great sign for what word of mouth should be for the run, but, two, what it means for how women think about these movies being for them as much as men might.” The next question will be whether the result was strong enough to kick start an “Ant-Man 2.” Though “Ant-Man” had a rocky path to the screen, with director Peyton Reed replacing Edgar Wright shortly before shooting commenced, its CinemaScore from audiences is an A.

After working on several drafts of the script, Marvel and Wright declared last May before production was set to start that they had parted ways “due to differences in their vision.” A little over a year later, “Ant-Man” has arrived in theaters to tell the story of how do-gooder thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) inherited a high-tech get-up from scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). The opening was closest to 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk” ($55 million), the poorly received Edward Norton edition that didn’t spawn further installments. Schumer, who has ridden a wave of popularity recently fueled by her Comedy Central show “Inside Amy Schumer,” drew an audience that was two-thirds female.

Rudd is already to appear as Ant-Man in “Captain America: Civil War.” “I say this was a success,” said Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak’s senior media analyst. “This was never predestined to open with $80 (million) or $100 million. Opening night crowds gave it an average grade of A-, according to market research firm CinemaScore, giving Universal executives hope that positive buzz could keep drawing crowds for weeks to come.

The ideal model is “Knocked Up,” which opened to $30.7 million but ended up with $148.8 million. “Ant-Man” opened to a solid $56.4 million overseas in countries that represent about half the total global market. This was about a perfectly solid result for a brand new property.” The $30.2 million opening for Schumer’s big-screen debut, “Trainwreck,” which the comedian also wrote, earned an estimated $30.2 million, making the R-rated Universal release one of the biggest comedy successes this summer.

That was a cool arc that I hadn’t really seen in a Marvel movie.” Besides Reed’s last-minute addition, Rudd and his “Anchorman” writer-director pal Adam McKay were tapped to rework the script. In second place at the box office this weekend was Universal’s animated “Minions.” Coming off a huge $115.7 million opening, it dropped 57% to $50.2 million, on the high end of second-weekend declines for family animated films.

The audience was two-thirds women, Universal said. “Amy Schumer is an absolute talent and should have a great career in the movies,” said Nick Carpou, distribution head for Universal. “The character that she portrays very effectively enables modern women.” Opening in just five locations was Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man,” starring Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone. You have to balance it.” The biggest difference for “Ant-Man,” which centers on Lang’s attempt to nab Cross’ technology, is that it’s as much of a family drama as it is a heist film or superhero flick. In the comics, Janet was an original member and co-founder of the Avengers—she’s actually credited with coming up with the name ”Avengers.” Given the way Hayley Atwell’s Agent Carter was woven into the beginning of Ant-Man, and how carefully the film obscured Janet’s face (first by a mask and then by an over-sized hat in the Pym family photo), it’s clear Marvel is leaving their options open to explore the history of how Janet might have been involved with Peggy and Howard Stark launching S.H.I.E.L.D. Already a critically acclaimed star on Comedy Central for her sketch show “Inside Amy Schumer,” Schumer’s transition to movies has drawn good reviews and opened above expectations, further showing the power of female moviegoers.

Throughout the movie, Lang seeks to reconnect with his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), after being released from prison, while Pym and Hope work to reconcile their own strained relationship. “I was thrilled to discover in the Marvel method that there’s a lot of leeway,” said Reed. “They encourage weird, idiosyncratic methods. ‘Ant-Man’ is their 12th film. But whether or not young Janet appears in flashbacks or an older Janet finds her way back to Hank from the Subatomic State, the M.C.U. has made Hope Pym the new Wasp (and maybe eventually the Red Queen?).

Rudd will reprise his role in next year’s “Captain America: Civil War,” which depicts a divide between superheroes siding with Cap and those aligning with Iron Man. Hank’s shaky reasoning for why Hope isn’t ready—yes, we know he was thinking of what happened to poor Janet—comes off about as well argued as Kevin Feige’s real-world explanation as to why Marvel has yet to produce a female-led superhero movie. So why do a superhero movie and play the boring civilian?“ She said she was approached for a character who had “the possibility in the future of becoming something” but, as she put it, “I want to do it now.” The “possibility in the future” line sounds a lot like what Lilly was working with here in Ant-Man. Though it’s pretty inconceivable to think of a Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, or Captain America origin story where the hero has to wait until after the credits have started to roll to finally see his super suit, we might be willing to buy Ant-Man as a Wasp origin story if her role in the upcoming movies is truly worth the wait. You’ll remember that Captain America: The Winter Soldier ended with Falcon and Cap on a mission to find Bucky (one they put on hold to help the Avengers out during Age of Ultron—though Falcon found time in the middle of all the action to give Cap a brief update on the search).

For those of you not aware of the comic-book plotline of Civil War, the story pits Steve Rogers against Tony Stark around the idea of the Superhuman Registration Act. Nursing guilt and a bruised ego over the fallout of Ultron (which was, let’s face it, mostly his fault), Tony is convinced registering individuals with superhuman abilities and/or advanced tech will protect the world from both the increasingly destructive public battles between heroes and villains and unpredictable threats of supherhumans turned evil. So when Steve says, “who knows if the accords would let” Tony help, he’s implying that he and Stark are already on opposite sides of this agenda by the time he’s got ahold of Bucky. There’s no saying exactly who will fall on which side of the Civil War conflict in the next Marvel movie, but it’s safe to assume, given Scott Lang’s problems with authority, that he’ll align himself with Falcon, Cap, and the small-government approach to superhumans.

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