Box Office Report: Marvel’s Tinyest Hero Still Bigger Than All Newcomers

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On the heels of an unimaginable tragedy, Marvel’s Ant-man dropped an okay 56 percent from its debut last weekend. Grossing another 24.9 million, the Peyton Reed directed solo-adventure has amassed 106 million and counting. Depending on the how the movie holds in the coming weeks, a final tally between 155-160 million in the U.S. seems likely.

Well reviewed Ant-Man’s strong performance in its sophomore frame is a bit of a vindication for Marvel. Some had questioned the movie’s inability to top the 60 million dollar mark when it opened.  Overseas, the movie is performing well and is still yet to play in over 30 percent of the marketplace (including China and Japan). The real story at the box office this weekend was the movie coming in narrowly behind Ant-Man for second place.

In 1998, a moderately low budget sports comedy starring SNL alum Adam Sandler debuted to number one at the U.S. box office with nearly 40 million. Sandler graduated from niche hits like Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore to break-out success earlier in the year with a hit movie called The Wedding Singer. The Waterboy had beaten fellow newcomer The Siege (starring Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, and Annette Bening) by nearly three to one.  The following summer when Big Daddy opened to over 40 million, Sandler was more than a movie star; he was a brand.

It could be argued that was the zenith of the actor/writer/producer’s career, as the disastrous Little Nicky soon followed suit.  But Sandler bounced back with a still very powerful 37 million debut for Mr. Deeds in 2002. While he took chances as an actor in films such as Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love and James L. Brooks’ Spanglish, it was Sandler’s business acumen that perhaps best serviced him. Happy Madison, the production company he had founded, made movies with long time Sandler co-stars Rob Schneider and David Spade (The Animal, Joe Dirt).

Meanwhile, Sandler seemed to chose his material and co-stars wisely.  From an out of left field collaboration with Jack Nicholson in Anger Management, to a re-teaming with Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates, or a remake of The Longest Yard co-starring Chris Rock. Sandler was even still able to open 2008’s You Don’t Mess With the Zohan to nearly 40 million.

But by 2011, his appeal may have been wearing thin.  After Jack and Jill delivered a somewhat disappointing 25 million dollar debut, his star continued to fade with flops like That’s My Boy and Blended (neither of which could even open to 15 million). While a sequel for Grown Ups managed to perform, Sandler is already committed to make several movies for Netflix.

Pixels, a big budget Sandler vehicle co-starring his often times on screen counterpart Kevin James, probably seemed like a good idea on paper.  An attempt for Sandler to court the family audience with Harry Potter director Chris Columbus at the helm and higher priced 3D tickets. Yet with only 24 million this weekend, the 90 million dollar budgeted movie will now be hard pressed to overcome awful reviews and a just okay cinemascore in the weeks ahead. And more than ever, Sandler’s longtime home Sony Pictures will be looking at foreign grosses to make up for their fallen son’s domestic shortcomings.

In its third weekend, Universal’s Minions was off another fifty-three percent with 22.9 million. Good enough for a third place finish, the Despicable Me spinoff has earned a huge 262.5 million.  While it is fading fast for an animated feature, the studio should be able to get the movie to 300 million.

Additionally, Universal’s Trainwreck was down a solid forty-two percent to 17.3 million, and 61.5 overall. At number four, director Judd Apatow and star/co-writer Amy Schumer should have no problem crossing the 100 million dollar mark in the weeks ahead.

Debuting impressively at number five with 16.7 million was The Weinstein Company’s Southpaw, starring a ripped Jake Gyllenhaal.  The film, from Training Day director Antoine Fuqua and Sons of Anarchy head writer/creator Kurt Sutter, mustered mixed reviews.  But Gyllenhaal, already an Academy Award nominee, received raves for his transformation and performance. It will be interesting to see how the modestly budgeted movie, with an impressive A-cinemascore, holds in the weeks ahead.

Unable to crack the top five was Twentieth Century Fox’s adaptation of best-selling author John Green’s book, Paper Towns. But while its debut was a far cry from last summer’s The Fault in Our Stars, also written by Green, the movie only cost 12 million to make (already grossing more than that in its first weekend). The studio is surely hoping that its next YA adaptation, The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, performs more in line with that film’s predecessor.

At number seven this weekend, Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out made off with another 7.4 million. Off a solid 35.8 percent, the movie has grossed a massive 320 million thus far. It could hit 350 million by the end of its run in North America and Canada.

Even more impressive though, is eighth ranked Jurassic World. Down thirty-seven percent this weekend, Universal’s dinopic chomped another 7 million to bring it’s total to 624 million. Heading for 650 million domestic, the Steven Spielberg produced sequel/reboot is already the third highest grossing film worldwide after only James Cameron’s Avatar and Titanic.

Reaching the top ten was specialty release Mr. Holmes, which doubled its screen count and came up with 2.8 million. With 6.4 million, it will be interesting to see how long this release can stay afloat in theaters.

Finally, Terminator Genysis dropped from sixth place to tenth this weekend. Off another fifty-five percent, the expensive misfire collected another 2.4 million to bring its total to 85.6 million. Looking to top out somewhere between 92-94 million, it’s embarrassing that the movie can’t get to the century mark domestically. A better foreign performance, meanwhile, probably won’t be enough to get this one out of the red.

Mystery Box Office Guy

Heroic Staff

Heroic Staff

Heroic Special Activities Division Agent Trainee Program