Saturday Numbers Analysis
X-Men: The Last Stand Comes Back Down to Earth
By David Mumpower
May 28, 2006

Behold the most powerful name at the box office.

Friday was a time of wine and roses for Fox. Their release, X-Men: The Last Stand, had the largest Friday ever. Studio execs were dancing in the streets. They even dared to dream that the mighty crown held by Spider-Man might finally fall. With $44.5 million in the bank already and Memorial Day weekend inflating Sunday's potential windfall, $114.8 million seemed easily attainable. What a difference 24 hours makes.

X-Men: The Last Stand earned $32.1 million on Saturday, bringing its two-day total to $76.6 million. Before I go any further, I want to stress the fact that this is already a spectacular performance. X3 had previously surpassed the original 2000 release in the franchise, X-Men, and its $54.5 million weekend by lunch-time on Saturday. And just to stress what a fantastic opening such a number is, please consider that Fantastic Four, the release credited with saving summer 2005 box office (at least temporarily), earned $56.0 million. After only two days, the latest X-Men title is over $20 million beyond that total. Perhaps most impressively, X3 will match its immediate predecessor, X2: X-Men United, by the end of early matinees today. Considering the first sequel is the tenth largest opening of all time, we can see that X3 is a box office behemoth.

Where X-Men: The Last Stand struggles is in its hopes of becoming the best opening of all-time. To state the matter succinctly, that dream is dead. Even allowing for several million in Thursday sneaks, the $32.1 million total represents a decline of at least 15% from Friday. This is not completely unexpected as the nature of X-Men is to skew toward a strong Friday. The original film's Saturday declined 10% while the sequel saw a Saturday bump of a minimal 2%. With a significantly larger opening Friday and more of a rush to view the perceived final installment of a trilogy, a Saturday decline was always in the cards; however, the actual rate of the depreciation is somewhat troubling.

A fall in the range of 10-12% should be expected for Sunday box office followed by another 20-25% drop on Monday. This gives X3 a range of $28.2-$28.9 million as a reasonable expectation for the holiday-inflated Sunday total and $21.2-23.1 million for Monday. Splitting the difference, X3 should make $50.7 million or so over the next couple of days. This would indicate a three day performance of $105.2 million and a four-day grand total of $127.3 million. Note that this would be the third largest three-day performance ever, falling behind Spider-Man 2, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and Shrek 2. Not all is lost in failing to break the all-time opening record, though. X3 is going to absolutely bury The Day After Tomorrow's prior Memorial Day weekend record of $85.8 million.

The Da Vinci Code suffered the same Friday/Saturday opening weekend fate as X3, albeit to a lesser extent. After falling 5% in its second day, analysts accepted the fact this was not going to be a film with legs. I don't think anyone was quite braced for how accurate that thought process would prove to be, though. Plummeting from $28.6 million on its opening day to $10.4 million on its second Friday, The Da Vinci Code started the holiday weekend off the wrong way. On Saturday, a recovery was optimistically expected. Sadly, this was not to be. The Tom Hanks exercise in angering Catholics increased only $2.0 million to $12.4 million. Given the same behavioral rules as listed above for X-Men: The Last Stand, the next two days for Code should add $20 million. This would represent $42.8 million for the four days.

Over the Hedge was expected to trace the Madagascar formula from last year. How has it done? The $7.6 million Friday was followed by $10.4 million on Saturday. This is a bump of 36.8%, even better than the 28% boost the more popular DreamWorks Animation film received last year. Assuming relatively similar trending for today and tomorrow, another $16.6 should be earned by the comic strip adaptation. That would be $34.6 million for the four days. If these numbers hold, I need to give BOP's own Tim Briody a raise for drilling Code and its long weekend performances after only a day of numbers.