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Ant-Man and The Wasp’s $80 million open is a surprise success

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Marvel’s original power couple surpass 2015’s debut by more than $20 million

Ant-Man and the Wasp - the Wasp and Ant-Man Marvel Studios

Ant-Man and the Wasp is looking at an opening weekend in the $80 million range for North America beating expectations for the franchise and giving Disney another enviable moneymaker as the summer movie season chugs on.

The $80 to $83 million projected isn’t a record-breaking number, but it is more than $20 million over what Ant-Man pulled in its 2015 debut weekend ($57.2 million). Despite being original Avengers (The Wasp named the team, in fact) and among Marvel Comics’ oldest superheroes, The Wasp and Ant-Man have been, in the mainstream, supporting characters for most of their 55-year history.

Still, Disney and director Peyton Ree seem to have charmed critics and audiences with the second chapter of the size-shifting super duo. Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer star in supporting roles as the original power couple Henry Pym and Janet van Dyne, with Paul Rudd as Scott Lang and Evangeline Lilly as van Dyne’s daughter, Hope, teaming up to deliver the present-day action. Laurence Fishburne co-stars as Dr. Bill Foster in another fan-service nod to Ant-Man devotees.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is graded 87 percent “fresh” (meaning positive reviews) on Rotten Tomatoes and follows February’s Black Panther and May’s Avengers: Infinity War in Disney’s can’t-miss lineup of Marvel superhero movies. In dollar terms, the flick’s weekend is about as strong as May’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, which was graded a disappointment, but that’s because Solo was expected to do a lot more at the box office and Ant-Man and the Wasp is mostly seen as a chaser for the Avengers storyline.

We’re still smitten by the big-hearted, tiny-sized action-adventure, calling it the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s funniest flick yet. It’s playing in more than 4,200 theaters nationwide.