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NEWSMAKERS

‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ buzzes to $76 million debut

NEW YORK

Despite its heroes’ diminutive size, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” opened with typical Marvel might at the box office, with an estimated $76 million in ticket sales.

According to studio estimates Sunday, the “Ant-Man” sequel easily surpassed the $57 million debut of the 2015 original in North America. The 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and the 20th to debut no. 1 at the box office – “Ant-Man and the Wasp” comes on the heels of two mammoth Marvel successes this year: “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”

While the first “Ant-Man,” starring Paul Rudd, had a rocky road to release due to a late director change, the rollout of the sequel, directed by Peyton Reed, was smoother. Cathleen Taff, head of distribution for Disney, credited a marketing campaign that played up the film as a more modest, funny and light-hearted change-of-pace for Marvel after the grandiosity of “Infinity War.”

“Ant-Man and the Wasp,” with a reported production budget of about $160 million, may have performed well enough to firmly establish its place among Marvel’s more main-line superheroes. Reviews were good (86 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences gave it an A-minus CinemaScore. Ticket sales overseas added another $85 million.

Befitting the summer season, the weekend’s top five films were all sequels. The weekend’s other new wide release was Blumhouse Productions’ “The First Purge,” the fourth film in the low-budget horror franchise about an annual 12-hour period of lawlessness.

With July 4th falling on a Wednesday and thus depriving Hollywood of a holiday weekend, Universal opted to release “The First Purge” on Wednesday, while “Ant-Man” waited for the customary Thursday night previews.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday also are included. Final domestic figures will be released today.

1. “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” $76 million ($85 million international).

2. “Incredibles 2,” $29 million ($35.7 million international).

3. “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” $28.6 million ($27.6 million international).

4. “The First Purge,” $17.2 million ($10.9 million international).

5. “Sicario: Day of the Soldado,” $7.3 million ($3 million international).

6. “Uncle Drew,” $6.6 million.

7. “Ocean’s 8,” $5.3 million ($7.7 million international).

8. “Tag,” $3.1 million ($2.9 million international).

9. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” $2.6 million.

10. “Deadpool 2,” $1.7 million.

Steve Ditko, Spider-Man co-creator, dies

NEW YORK

Police in New York say Steve Ditko, who co-created the Spider-Man and Doctor Strange characters for Marvel Comics, has died. He was 90.

Lt. Paul Ng says Ditko was found on June 29 in his Manhattan apartment and was pronounced dead at the scene. No further details were immediately available.

Ditko, along with Stan Lee, introduced the world to Peter Parker, and his alter-ego Spider-Man in 1962 in an issue of “Amazing Fantasy.”

A year later, Ditko introduced the world to surgeon-turned-metaphysical superhero Doctor Strange.

The adventures of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange have been turned into blockbuster films.

Ditko left Marvel in 1966, and returned the following decade. One of his later creations was Squirrel Girl, a cult favorite among comics fans.

Associated Press

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