'Ant-Man' triumphs over 'Pixels' in close box office race

'Ant-Man' just managed to triumph over the Adam Sandler comedy 'Pixels' this weekend, while the animated movie 'Minions' and the Amy Schumer comedy 'Trainwreck' held on in third and fourth place. The teen movie 'Paper Towns' performed less well, coming in at sixth place.

George Kraychyk/Sony Pictures/AP
'Pixels' stars Adam Sandler (second from l.), Peter Dinklage (r.), Josh Gad (second from r.), and Michelle Monaghan (l.).

Adam Sandler and assorted video game characters couldn’t take down the newest Marvel superhero at the box office this weekend.

Sandler’s new movie “Pixels,” which stars Sandler, Peter Dinklage, and Josh Gad as video game champions fighting real versions of classic video game personalities, opened at the box office this weekend but came in second to “Ant-Man,” the new Marvel comic book movie starring Paul Rudd. It was a very close battle, however; “Ant-Man” grossed $24.8 million over the weekend, while “Pixels” debuted with $24 million.

The effects-heavy film was a change of pace for Sandler compared to such previous summer releases like 2013’s “Grown Ups 2” or 2012’s “That’s My Boy,” neither of which involved anything approaching the effects of the giant Donkey Kong or Pac-Man seen in “Pixels.” This means that there’s more pressure for “Pixels” to do well at the box office to make up its budget. 

In addition, “Pixels” was very poorly received by critics. One notable film that succeeded this summer despite negative reviews was “Jurassic World,” which recently became the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time. However, though it didn’t get overwhelmingly positive reviews, some critics noted that the movie had good points like the performance of actor Chris Pratt, while others wrote that it still has “old-fashioned Saturday matinee-like pleasures.” By comparison, few critics could find much to praise for “Pixels.” In addition, Sandler has had several recent misfires at the box office – the 2014 romantic comedy “Blended” did not do well, nor did 2012’s “That’s My Boy” or 2011’s “Jack and Jill,” though his 2013 comedy “Grown Ups 2” performed better. 

As for the rest of the films this weekend, the animated “Despicable Me” spin-off “Minions” hung on in third place and Amy Schumer’s comedy “Trainwreck” came in fourth place this weekend. Meanwhile, the new release “Southpaw,” which stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a boxer, came in fifth, grossing more than $16 million. The drama performed well against such summer tentpoles as “Ant-Man” and “Pixels.”

Meanwhile, the film “Paper Towns,” which is based on the young adult novel of the same name by John Green, opened in sixth place with more than $12 million. The film “The Fault in Our Stars,” which debuted last summer and was also based on a book by Green, grossed far more in its opening weekend, taking in $48 million. 

What accounts for the lower performance of “Towns”? Some teenagers, the movie’s target audience, may have headed for “Pixels.” When “Fault” opened in 2014, it went up against the Tom Cruise action film “Edge of Tomorrow,” which was obviously a much different film from the teen drama "Fault." By contrast, 62 percent of the audience for “Pixels” was under the age of 25 this past weekend – it had some success drawing in younger moviegoers. “Edge” only brought in 27 percent of moviegoers under 25 when it opened.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.