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Top Ten Takeaways: Strong Marvel ‘Ant-Man’ and Apatow ‘Trainwreck’ as Women Continue Box Office Surge

Top Ten Takeaways: Strong Marvel 'Ant-Man' and Apatow 'Trainwreck' as Women Continue Box Office Surge

It’s hard to dig up bad news this weekend, which saw strong results again with multiple successes, new and continuing. The five top films will each likely pass $100 million in domestic gross; three could score over $300 million apiece. The five top films’ combined cumulative gross is about $1.8 billion (more than half to Universal alone). That’s the kind of summer insiders were predicting all along.

The Top Ten total is about $180 million. That’s a 37% increase over the same weekend last year, $131 million, with year to date nearly 9% better. The summer yield so far two films over $50 million, three over $30 million. That’s huge, because it proves two things: the surge isn’t due to just one or two huge openings, and the old-fashioned belief that hits beget hits as going to movies returns as a habit is happening. That seemed to be the case over last Christmas, and now is the case this summer.

Amid wide audience successes, two narrow releases vied for 10th place. For now, “Mr. Holmes” (Roadside Attractions/Miramax), which is in 363 theaters, nearly tied with the Bollywood “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” (Eros) in 256.

READ MORE: Arthouse Audit:  ‘Mr. Holmes, Starring Ian McKellen, Beats Holdover hit ‘Love & Mercy’

The Top Ten

1. Ant-Man (Buena Vista)  NEW – Cinemascore: A; Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 64; Est. budget: $130 million
$58,040,000 in 3,856 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $15,052; Cumulative: $58,040,000
2. Minions (Universal) Week 2 – Last weekend #1
$50,200,000 (-57%) in 4,311 theaters (+10); PTA: $11,645; Cumulative: $216,692,000
3. Trainwreck (Universal)  NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 75; Est. budget: $35 million
$30,200,000 in 3,158 theaters; PTA: $9,563; Cumulative: $30,200,000
4. Inside Out (Buena Vista) Week 5 – Last weekend #3
$11,660,000 (-34%) in 3,263 theaters (-381); PTA: $3,573; Cumulative: $306,363,000
5. Jurassic World (Universal)  Week 6 – Last weekend #2
$11,400,000 (-37%) in 3,117 theaters (-324); PTA: $3,657; Cumulative: $611,174,000
6. Terminator: Genisys (Paramount)  Week 3 – Last weekend #4
$5,400,000 (-61%) in 2,814 theaters (-969); PTA: $1,919; Cumulative: $80,640,000
7. Magic Mike XXL (Warner Bros)  Week 3 – Last weekend #6
$4,500,000 (-53%) in 2,557 theaters (-799); PTA: $1,746; Cumulative: $58,636,000
8. The Gallows (Warner Bros.)  Week 2  – Last weekend #5
$4,005,000 in 2,720 (-59%) theaters (no change); PTA: $1,472; Cumulative: $18,007,000
9. Ted 2 (Universal)  Week 4 – Last weekend #7
$2,700,000 (-52%) in 1,582 theaters (-589); PTA: $1,707; Cumulative: $77,457,000
10. Mr. Holmes (Roadside Attractions)  NEW – Cinemascore: A- ; Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 66
$2,489,000 in 363 theaters; PTA: $6,857; Cumulative: $2,489,000

‘Ant-Man’ Ain’t No Slouch

High expectations for a Marvel release caused concern in some quarters as “Ant-Man” grossed “only” $58 million, slightly below estimates. Combined with early international numbers, that means the movie may not be a juggernaut in terms of profit (the $130 million budget-plus marketing will get in the way) but it continues to expand the immersive Marvel universe, as Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man will turn up in other superhero movies down the line. 

Despite Marvel’s frequent and consistent delivery of box office blockbusters, “Ant-Man” marks a credible opening. For one thing, in this case other distribs didn’t give it a wide berth. Disney launched this franchise smack in the middle of summer (not the emptier August period) with loads of competition. Its a first time for this character to be the lead, and Ant-Man lacks the edgier side that many male fan boys embrace. Rudd is a plus for any film, but he is both older (46) and has made his name in more comedies than action movies. This didn’t get the level of media attention (including reviews) that some Marvel releases have.

Demographically, “Ant-Man” played young (24% under 17, 45% under 26) at a time when those audiences have three other current choices. It was surprisingly male (58%), as “Trainwreck” siphoned off the female audience.

Going into the weekend it was far from clear that “Ant-Man” would take the top spot.  A smaller 50% drop for “Minions” would have made it close. Instead, the studio notched Marvel’s 12th straight #1 opening.

Judd & Amy’s Excellent Adventure

Despite “Trainwreck” being Amy Schumer’s movie debut, as well as carrying the lead (talented costar Bill Hader is hardly a marquee draw), “Trainwreck” opened as well or better than the current queen of movie comedy Melissa McCarthy’s “Spy” last month. That seems even more impressive than it being about equal to Apatow’s best opening (“Knocked Up”/2007), with minor competition.

Not surprisingly, the movie drew a  66% female demo, less than “Magic Mike” or “Fifty Shades of Gray,” but very high for a more broad-based comedy. Unlike “Bridesmaids” ($26 million 2011 opening) this isn’t an ensemble cast. And it boasts an easier-to- grasp concept. 

READ MORE: He Said, She Said: Debating ‘Trainwreck,’ Subversive Studio Comedy or Vanilla Rom-Com?

Amy Schumer’s TV career has been more niche than McCarthy’s prior to her breakout in “Bridesmaids.” Schumer’s Comedy Central show has far fewer viewers than “Mike and Molly.” Yet she has been able to connect with women of all ages (“Trainwreck” attendees were 63% over 30).

Part of the reason? It’s her script (sole credit) and significantly her voice (an Oscar nomination for original screenplay is a real possibility). “Trainwreck” scored a favorable critical response (the best of any Apatow-involved release, including “Bridesmaids”) despite a dearth of women critics (Manohla Dargis in the New York Times delivered a strong review). Universal and Apatow deserve credit for committing to Schumer as the star two years ago, which meant taking a real chance. They were right to bet on a certain future.

Let’s see how this plays out. There’s room to expand to both younger and male audiences. This is going to be a game-changer. (How many times have we written this?)

Credit also to Universal and the creative team and the huge chance they took premiering this in March at South by Southwest. It paid off.

Holdovers

With two new openers, something had to give. But it wasn’t the two summer 2015 leaders: “Inside Out” and “Jurassic World” dropped only 34 and 37% respectively, and in the same order are over $300 and 600 million. “Minions” fell 57% from its heights last weekend, much more than the 42 and 47% drops for the earlier “Despicable Me” series films. “Inside” is $90 million ahead of “Minions,” and could end up the bigger grosser.

The rest of the field dropped more than 50%, led by 61% for “Terminator: Genisys,” now likely to fall just under $100 million domestically. Worldwide could approach $400 million, though, so it still has a chance of coming close to breaking even.

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