NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- He's small. He's strong. He talks to ants?
Ant-Man, the newest entry in the Marvel cinematic universe, had an opening weekend like its namesake's superpower; mighty, but relatively small.
The superhero action-thriller earned just over $58 million at the box office during its opening weekend, according to Rentrak. This was slightly below expectations of $60 million to 65 million, and was the second-smallest opening weekend for a Marvel movie, beating only the 2008 Incredible Hulk. The Avengers, Marvel's largest opening weekend, came in at $208 million in 2012.
Earning below expectations and having the second-lowest Marvel opening weekend isn't entirely bad news, as the movie still performed valiantly despite a lack of name recognition for the titular character. It grabbed the No. 1 spot for the weekend, beating Universal's (CMCSA - Get Report) little yellow Minions by $8 million and fellow Disney (DIS - Get Report) production Inside Out by $46 million.
By linking itself to the wildly popular Avengers series of films, the tiny ant whisperer, played by Paul Rudd, was able to overcome a lack of mainstream recognition.
"Disney/Marvel's marketing team must be given some kudos," Keith Simanton, senior editor at IMDB wrote for Box Office Mojo. "The challenges of marketing a character unknown to the public at large, whose power is getting really tiny and controlling ants, was obvious."
The movie also saw critical success, even more so than more established Marvel franchise characters. IMDB rated the movie a 8.0, edging out crowd favorites like Iron Man (7.9) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (7.9.).
Disney has had a good year thus far. Year-to-date, the studio has beaten its haul for every year since 2000, riding the wild success of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Inside Out to gross more than $1.1 billion so far in 2015.
Universal studios had a good weekend as well. Minions had a strong second weekend, and Trainwreck, the Judd Apatow-helmed comedy starring Amy Schumer and Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader, came in well above expectations during its open.
Ant-Man is projected to take in $160 million over its theatrical lifespan, according to Marci Ryvicker, senior analyst for Wells Fargo (WFC - Get Report). Ryvicker said that Disney hopes Ant-Man will fare like Guardians of the Galaxy, another Disney superhero movie with less-known characters and a similar budget, which pulled in $333 million in its 25 week lifespan and $94 million in its opening weekend.