Forecast: 'Ant-Man''s Huge/Tiny $60M Opening
2nd Forecast Update: Ant-Man pulled in $22.6M on Friday, with its Thursday take of $6.4M representing 28% of its gross.

That figure is better than the Friday take of 2008's The Incredible Hulk, which brought in $21.5M. There's an asterix on that number, however, as the big green guy had a per-screen average of $6,125 on 3,505 screens. The latest Marvel entry from director Peyton Reed was on 3,856 screens for $5,872 per screen.

Trainwreck is coming into the station faster than expected. Its three-day estimate stands at $28.9M, from a $10.7M Friday start on 3,178 screens and a $3,336 per screen average. This Friday tally too has a qualification. Director Judd Apatow's latest has a Friday total better than his biggest hit, Knocked Up, which made $9.8M, but Knocked was on 307 fewer screens (2,871) and had a better per-screen average of $3,415.

Forecast Update: Ant-Man opened to $6.4M from Thursday shows, a respectable start but one that indicates that tracking in the $60M range was correct. Disney reports that 3D/IMAX/Premium Large Format (PLF) accounted for 48% of that take, with IMAX credited for 16% alone.

Since Ant-Man is the first Marvel film after Avengers: Age of Ultron let's assume the "Avengers Effect," the goodwill carried over from the super-hero team up, is still working in the zeitgeist, if not as powerfully as the adored, first Avengers.

That makes Ant-Man front-loaded, with its Thursday night screenings representing 30% of its Friday cume. That's the same level that Guardians of the Galaxy enjoyed when it made $11.3M on Thursday, on its way to a $37.8M Friday.

Guardians, however, was lauded both critically, it had a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and by the public at large with an "A" from CinemaScore. Ant-Man sits at a 79% (was 74%) on RT.

To project how Ant-Man performs over the weekend it seems reasonable to compare it to Thor: The Dark World and its Saturday and Sunday:

Friday: $20M (includes $6M Thurs)

Sat: $20.12M (.6% bump from Friday - thanks Neil P. for the correction)

Sun: $13.7M (-32% from Saturday)

Total (July 17 - 19): $53.8M

The seasons may also come into play here. Thor 2 was an early November release. Ant-Man might be used as a summer baby-sitter, regardless of reviews and word-of-mouth. If so, then it's feasible its weekend could be higher. Minions, after all, opened to $6.2M in its Thursday showings, heading to a $115.7M weekend and Inside Out opened to $3.7M on its Thursday, on the path to a $91M weekend.

Those were both animated films, however, so it's likely that Ant-Man ends up in the $60 range, as expected.

Forecast: Ant-Man, the 12th entry in the recognized Marvel Cinematic Universe, opens this weekend with a likely $60M in domestic receipts in 3,856 venues.

Though Fandango is reporting that the PG-13 super-hero flick is in a dead heat with Minions for ticket sales, Ant-Man should end up on the top of the box-office hill.

While most films would be ecstatic with a $60M weekend for what technically is a non-sequel, introducing new characters, it's hardly an unqualified victory for the superhero production.

This is the last entry in Marvel's Phase 2 slate of films, which includes Iron Man 3, Thor 2, The Winter Soldier, Guardians and Age of Ultron. As Ant-Man closes out Phase 2 it may find itself opening lower than every other Marvel Phase 1 or 2 film before it save the troubled The Incredible Hulk in 2008. That Phase 1 production opened with $55.4M in 3,505 venues but quickly proved it had no legs. The eventual domestic take of Hulk was $134.8M with an overseas cume of $128.6M, both totals the lowest of all the MCU films.

That, however, was seven years ago and the Marvel brand has done nothing but strengthen in the interim, particularly internationally. Marvel and Disney have proved they can take even unknown characters, such as the Guardians of the Galaxy, open their film in August, and make it a hit.

So Ant-Man, in the long haul and overseas, should be okay. But the tiniest Marvel superhero still has to distance himself from a few other eerie similarities to its hulking green predecessor.

Ant-Man, like Hulk, is known as having been a troubled production. Ant-Man's long-time champion/co-writer/director and geek favorite, Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,) and respected writer/director Joe Cornish parted ways with Marvel and the project in a storm of "creative differences." For Wright it was ten years of work down the proverbial shower drain.

Hulk too had a reported contentious shoot and post-production as Marvel, lead actor Edward Norton and director Louis Leterrier clashed.

But Hulk at least retained the same credits. In Ant-Man's case Marvel replaced Wright with director Peyton Reed, best known for the cheerleader flick, Bring It On, and the Jennifer Aniston/Vince Vaughn rom-com The Break-Up. The change did little to stem the ill-will the production had engendered with the hard-core fanbase. While it's unlikely that that base will shun the new film they might be quick to turn on it if they feel it's not up to par with their imagined Wright film.

Given Ant-Man's decidedly mixed reviews it may be in danger of those fans doing just that. The film has a 74% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a healthy (but likely fanboy) 8.0 rating on IMDb from 3,168 users and a Metascore of 66/100.

Middling to negative reviews are an external nuisance but Ant-Man also has to deal with some internal, logistical reluctance as well. The 3,700 screens it will be playing on are the second lowest screen counts in MCU history, second only to, you guessed it, Hulk.

Trainwreck, the R-rated comedy from director Judd Apatow, starring the comic talent, Amy Schumer, opens in an estimated 3,100 venues for a likely $25M haul. This film debuted to rave reviews at SXSW and the Universal publicity wagon has been sneaking it across the nation ever since, building word-of-mouth and awareness. Schumer is extra hot. Her Comedy Central show has her brand out there and her personal appearances, including a tour de force bit at CinemaCon, has endeared her to the public and the press alike. Universal obviously has a lot of confidence in it and they love their relationship with Apatow, who has directed all of his hits for the studio.

Trainwreck, at 2 hours, 5 mins, comes closer to his leaner hits, Knocked Up (2 hrs., 9 mins, $148.8M domestic cume) and The 40-Year Old Virgin (1 hr., 56 mins, $109.4M domestic cume), than his longer movies, Funny People (2 hr., 16 mins, $51.9M domestic cume) and This Is 40 (2 hr., 13 mins, $67.5M domestic cume).

The film has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a 5.9/10 from 1,226 users on IMDb and a Metascore of 76/100.

Forecast (July 17 - 19)

1. Ant-Man - $60M

2. Minions - $55M (-52.5%)

3. Trainwreck - $25M

4. Jurassic World - $11M (-39.4%)

5. Inside Out - $10.5M (-40.6%)

In specialty titles, A24 will add 94 screens to Amy, the doc about singer Amy Winehouse, for a total of 435. Last weekend it averaged $5,277 in 341 theaters for $1.77M and now sits with a cume of over $2.4M. That's a much wider distribution than other musical-docs enjoyed, such as 20 Feet from Stardom. At its widest that Oscar-winning doc about backup singers who were the heart and soul of so many hits, was on 147 screens and had a domestic cume of $4.94. Amy will be on the road to eclipsing that sum this weekend and possibly on the same trajectory to the Dolby Theater in February.