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Box office hits and misses: Ant-Man towers over Pixels

Marvel Studios’ size-changing superhero Ant-Man retained the top spot in the box office over the weekend, fending off challenges from a giant Pac Man and a grizzled boxer, among other big-screen threats.

Paul Rudd’s debut in Marvel’s cinematic universe managed to bring in more than $24.7 million domestically during its second weekend in theaters, beating out newcomers Pixels and Southpaw, as well as the previously released animated feature Minions and the raunchy comedy Trainwreck. The tally for Ant-Man in U.S. theaters now sits at around $106 million, with the film’s worldwide box office at $226.5 million so far.

While this weekend’s ticket sales were enough for Ant-Man to win the weekend, the conclusion to “Phase Two” of Marvel’s cinematic universe remains the lowest-grossing movie to date both in the U.S. and worldwide in the over-arching, 12-film series. It’s likely to overtake 2008’s The Incredible Hulk ($134.8 million domestically, $263.4 million worldwide) at some point down the road, but the film’s current pace probably won’t be enough to move it past 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger ($176.6/$370.6), the 10th highest-grossing film in the MCU.

Even with Ant-Man‘s modest box-office performance, Adam Sandler and director Chris Columbus’ sci-fi comedy Pixels failed to achieve a high score with movie-goers over the weekend. The film’s $24 million domestic premiere and $25.4 million worldwide opening was lower than most box-office pundits anticipated, given the mainstream-friendly cast and filmmaker. Widespread negative reviews are the most likely culprit for the film’s underwhelming performance, but rumors of its demise may be exaggerated at this point, as several films starring Sandler have opened under $20 million but gone on to earn a tidy profit in the long run.

The third and fourth spots in this weekend’s box-office ranking were occupied by Minions ($22 million) and Trainwreck ($17.3 million) respectively, with the animated feature continuing a surprisingly swift decline in ticket sales from week to week while Amy Schumer’s adult comedy held strong for another weekend. Despite Minions dropping another 55 percent in ticket sales this weekend, the film currently ranks as the fifth highest-grossing movie of the year so far in the U.S. and the fourth highest-grossing film of 2015 worldwide — so Universal Pictures probably isn’t sweating the drop-off too much.

Two new films debuted in fifth and sixth place over the weekend, with The Equalizer director Antoine Fuqua’s boxing drama Southpaw earning a decent $16.5 million in its debut but generating some early Oscar buzz for star Jake Gyllenhaal. Paper Towns, the latest film based on a novel by The Fault In Our Stars author John Green, didn’t manage to replicate the success of its predecessor with a $12.5 million opening that fell far short of the $48 million premiere for The Fault In Our Stars last year.

Following dramas Southpaw and Paper Towns in the weekend’s rankings were two high-grossing films that have been challenging each other for several weeks now, with Pixar’s critically praised animated feature Inside Out earning $7.4 million and Universal Pictures’ dinosaur-fueled juggernaut Jurassic World raking in another $6.9 million. Both films are continuing to climb the charts for both 2015 films and all-time earnings with an impressively long — and profitable — tenure in the box-office rankings. Inside Out currently ranks as the fourth highest-grossing film of 2015 domestically and sixth highest-grossing film of the year worldwide, while Jurassic World occupies the top spot on both charts.

This weekend’s earnings also moved Jurassic World past The Avengers on the all-time domestic box-office chart, with the dino-sequel now ranking as the third highest-grossing film of all time in both the U.S. and worldwide.

The final two spots in the weekend’s top ten rankings were filled by the wide release of Mr. Holmes, featuring Sir Ian McKellen as an elderly Sherlock Holmes, and the underperforming sequel Terminator: Genisys, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger as an elderly T-800 android.

One of the only other major releases to debut over the weekend, Crank co-director Mark Neveldine’s horror film The Vatican Tapes earned a modest $850,000 in its opening weekend.

This upcoming week features the release of two very different sequels with a lot of buzz surrounding them. Tom Cruise returns to the role of super-spy Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, which is all but assured of the top spot in the box-office rankings, while Ed Helms takes on the role of an adult Rusty Griswold in the comedy Vacation, the next installment of the National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise.

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Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
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