Tue | Aug 3, 2021

Ant- Man crawls past Pixels

Published:Sunday | July 26, 2015 | 3:39 PM
Old-school arcade friends must save the world from video game characters in ‘Pixels’.
Paul Rudd stars in ‘Ant-Man’.


Ant-Man crept past new opener Pixels to claim the top spot at the box office this weekend by an ant-sized margin. The Disney and Marvel superhero pic brought in US$24.8 million over the weekend, bringing its domestic total to US$106.1 million, according to Rentrak estimates yesterday.

Pixels, meanwhile, barely missed first place with a US$24 million debut. While studios always hope for the bragging rights of a number-one debut, the real issue is whether or not the Adam Sandler end-of-the-world comedy will make up its US$88 million production budget.

"It's been a little competitive in the marketplace, when you consider the extent of the performance of Jurassic and Inside Out," said Sony's president of Worldwide Distribution, Rory Bruer. "To get to where we opened to was quite good."

Video game characters

Critics were not fond of Pixels, which shows 1980s video-arcade game characters attacking Earth, but younger audiences still turned out to cinemas. An estimated 62 per cent of the Pixels audience was under 25 years old.

Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak's senior media analyst, said Sandler can still attract an audience, but the expensive film has a lot of ground to make up. "They're really going to have to count on the international component. That's going to be key," he said.

Overall, the box office is down three per cent from the same weekend last year, when Lucy opened particularly strong. Dergarabedian said that though some are attempting to link last week's cinema shootings to any dip in the box office this weekend, "the numbers just don't bear it out".

Holdovers Minions and Trainwreck took the third and fourth spots with US$22.1 million and US$17.3 million, respectively.

Meanwhile, the R-rated boxing drama, Southpaw, surpassed expectations and landed a place in the top five with its US$16.5 million opening. Dergarabedian said that its performance is likely due to star Jake Gyllenhaal's enthusiastic promotion of the film, and also the fact that it provides an alternative to the standard summer blockbuster fare.

"Southpaw felt like a really good fall movie," he said.

Paper Towns, an adaptation of John Green's coming-of-age novel, opened in sixth place with US$12.5 million. The Fox film only cost US$12 million to produce, but considering Green's fan base and last year's massive US$48 million debut of The Fault in Our Stars, which Green also wrote, it's a bit disappointing.

Comparison unfair

A straight comparison isn't entirely fair, though. The Fault in Our Stars had a much bigger following and transcended age and gender groups with its story of two teens dying of cancer and falling in love. Paper Towns is a more narrow and lighthearted high-school tale.

According to exit polls, 71 per cent of the Paper Towns audience was female, and 78 per cent were under 25 years old.

Also, Shailene Woodley was a much bigger name when The Fault in Our Stars came out, whereas Cara Delevingne and Nat Wolff are somewhat lesser known. Woodley's Divergent association took the modest film "to another level", Dergarabedian said.

"I think we have a job ahead of us in the coming weeks to find more of our potential audience who we weren't able to reach this weekend. But I think we can do that," said Chris Aronson, Fox's Domestic Distribution president.

Following are estimated ticket sales for Friday through yesterday at US and Canadian cinemas, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers are also included. Final:

1. Ant-Man, US$24.8m (US$35.4m international).

2. Pixels, US$24m (US$21.4m international).

3. Minions, US$22.1m (US$44m international).

4. Trainwreck, US$17.3m (US$220,000 international).

5. Southpaw, US$16.5m (US$3.5m international).

6. Paper Towns, US$12.5 million (US$8m international).

7. Inside Out, US$7.4m (US$28.3m international).

8. Jurassic World, US$6.9m (US$47.6m international).

9. Mr. Holmes, US$2.8m

10. Terminator Genisys, US$2.4m (US$10.7m international).

Following are the estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international cinemas (excluding the US. and Canada), according to Rentrak:

1. Monster Hunt, US$46m

2. Minions, US$44m

3. Ant-Man, US$35.4m

4. Inside Out, US$28.3m

5. Jian Bing Man (Pancake Man), US$25m

6. Pixels, US$21.4m

7. The Assassination, US$19.5m

8. Monkey King: Hero is Back, US$17m

9. Terminator Genisys, US$10.7m

10. Paper Towns, US$8m