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‘Ant-Man’ Poised to Stomp Past ‘Minions’ at Box Office

Marvel’s new superhero saga is tracking for a $60 million debut, but the little yellow helpers could pull off an upset; and ”Trainwreck“ is on track for a $20 million first weekend

It’s a clash of the micro-titans at the box office this weekend, with Disney/Marvel’s “Ant-Man” neck and neck with Universal/Illumination Entertainment’s champion “Minions” for the top position. But analysts project the superhero movie will shrink down the animated yellow sidekicks.

“Ant-Man” is small but mighty, tracking to open between $60 to $65 million domestically when it opens Friday, according to analysts.

That should put it just ahead of “Minions,” which grossed $115.7 million last weekend and is on track to pull in around $60 million in its second outing.

There are promising signs that the animated hit will have staying power, including an impressive $13 million take on Monday night.

However, Fandango reports that “Ant-Man” has a slight edge over “Minions” in advance ticket sales for the weekend.

This weekend’s other new wide release is Amy Schumer‘s “Trainwreck,” which is tracking to land in the range of high-teens to $20 million, as the now-actress hopes to expand her comedic repertoire to movies. The modestly budgeted R-rated comedy, opening at 3,153 North American theaters and the fifth film directed by Judd Apatow, is predicted to be a success.

But it’s expected to finish behind two other holdovers, Disney/Pixar’s “Inside Out” and Universal’s “Jurassic World.”

“Ant-Man,” starring Paul Rudd, cost $130 million to produce and is expected to continue Marvel’s recent track record — though it will fall considerable short of the last two openers, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which debuted at $191 million and $94.3 million, respectively.

“It’s unfair to compare it to these other superhero movies that are so massive — even comparing it to ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ isn’t fair because that was such a big breakout,”  Phil Contrino of BoxOffice.com told TheWrap. “It’ll just help to expand the brand. It’s going to be another movie that surprises people.”

Director Peyton Reed’s film follows Scott Lang (Rudd), who manages to steal a high-tech suit developed by retired scientist Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) that allows its wearer to shrink in size but increase their strength and power. The script is by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, Adam McKay and Rudd.

“‘Ant-Man’ feels fresh because it doesn’t play like a typical superhero movie, and with Paul Rudd there is a lot of humor,” Rentrak senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian told TheWrap. And while the character is less well known that other Marvel heroes, he added, “That might give it some edge in the long run.”

If “Ant-Man” delivers as expected, it will be the 12th consecutive Marvel movie to open on top since “Iron Man” began the streak in 2008. The last Marvel release, “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” has topped $1 billion at the worldwide box office. “Ant-Man” looks to finish just above “The Incredible Hulk,” which grossed $55.4 million its opening weekend back in 2008.

“Trainwreck,” which production budget of $35 million, would be well on the way to profitability if it hits its $20 million opening threshold.

Amy Schumer wrote the screenplay and stars as a sports journalist whose rejection of monogamy is tested when she meets a sports doctor played by Bill Hader. In addition to directing, Judd Apatow produced alongside Barry Mendel.

The film could capitalize on strong reviews and the surging following for its star in her first big-screen starring role since her popular Comedy Central sketch series. “Amy Schumer is definitely making her mark although, she is not as well known as Melissa McCarthy yet,” Dergarabedian said. “If women really come out for it, it could perform better.”

“Magic Mike XXL,” another R-rated comedy aimed at women, seriously underperformed at the box office earlier this month. But the studio is clearly hoping to mimic the success of “Bridesmaids,” another Apatow-produced R-rated comedy that raked in $26.2 million its opening weekend.

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