In yet another victory for Disney and Marvel, the latest summer tentpole is on course to gross an estimated $35 million on Friday for a projected domestic debut of $85 million or more, including $11.5 million in Thursday-evening previews, according to early returns.
That’s well ahead of the $57.2 million collected by Ant-Man on its first weekend in summer 2015.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is easily trouncing the competition, including horror offering The First Purge, which opened on July Fourth to get a jump on the superhero tentpole.
The superhero sequel is the 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and flies into theaters following the staggering success of Avengers: Infinity War earlier this summer and Black Panther in February. Currently, the Ant-Man sequel boasts an 87 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Peyton Reed (The Break-Up) returns to direct, reuniting him 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 sequel is set between the events in Captain America: Civil War and Infinity War, and sees Ant-Man and the Wasp embarking on a new mission from van Dyne’s father and SHIELD inventor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to find his wife and Hope’s mother (Michelle Pfeiffer).
Ant-Man and the Wasp opens in roughly 45 percent of the foreign marketplace timed to its U.S. launch.
Universal and Blumhouse’s The First Purge opened to $9.3 million on Independence Day, followed by an estimated $4.6 million on Thursday for a two-day total of nearly $14 million. The dystopian horror pic is now targeting a five-day debut in the $31 million range, including a projected $5.5 million on Friday.
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. Tracking shows the movie appealing 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, which also launches this week in its first 27 international markets.
In July 2016, The Purge: Election Year debuted to $31.5 million domestically.
For the weekend, The First Purge is looking at a fourth-place finish behind Ant-Man 2, fellow Universal title Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Disney/Pixar’s Incredibles 2.