When looking for a fair comparison between Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man and any other entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (to judge how audiences might respond to the movie), a lot of us point to Guardians of the Galaxy. Both are traditional origin stories, and neither have the ability to sell themselves on the presence of recognizable Avengers characters like Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) or Captain America (Chris Evans). Guardians was a huge hit when it reached theaters last summer. How will Ant-Man do in a similar slot?
THR reports that Ant-Man grabbed an estimated $6.4 million on Thursday night, which is roughly half what Guardians of the Galaxy pulled during its Thursday night run. James Gunn’s space adventure, starring Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana, netted $11.2 million in August 2014, setting the record for the largest pre-opening tally of the year (a record that had been held by Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Guardians of the Galaxy went on to earn $333 million domestically. It was the third-highest grossing movie of 2014, behind American Sniper and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. It was a massive success.
Ant-Man looks like it will do well, but probably won’t touch those numbers. Estimates are putting it somewhere in the ballpark of a $60 million opening, which – if that happens – would give it the ninth or tenth best opening weekend of the year. Cinderella, another Disney hit, opened to $67.8 million back in March, while the musical sequel Pitch Perfect 2 did $69M in May. The former crossed the $200M mark domestically, while the latter came close, with $183M.
It might not be fair to compare Ant-Man to the other Marvel movies, as its goals are different. But those comparisons are nearly impossible to avoid. Ant-Man is more of a traditional origin story, closer in tone to the first Iron Man or the first Thor, which had to introduce brand-new heroes to curious audiences before being able to weave them into the larger MCU. Even though Ant-Man is part of the Marvel brand, it doesn’t have a direct predecessor feeding into it, the way that box-office behemoths Jurassic World or Furious 7 did.
We’ll continue to track the progress of Ant-Man all weekend, to see how it measures up to previous Marvel films, and also to Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck, which is competing for audience eyeballs. Which one will you go see this weekend?
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