X-Men Prequel Pounds Hangover 2
By John Hamann
June 5, 2011
After a white hot Memorial Day weekend, the box office served up another healthy summer blockbuster this weekend, this time in the form of X-Men: First Class, a prequel looking to breathe new life into a franchise that has stumbled – at least in terms of quality – as of late. Holdovers are another big story this weekend, as five films earned more than $10 million. The Hangover Part II took in a massive $103 million over four days last weekend, with Kung Fu Panda 2 taking down another $60 million. Would the return of the X-Men spell doom for the wedding party and the fat panda? Read on to find out.
Our number one movie of the weekend is X-Men: First Class, the prequel with effects eye candy and a bunch of attractive, up and coming stars. X-Men: First Class was at the top of the class, as it earned $56 million from 3,641 venues – far less than the 4,099 venues the last film in the series, X-Men Origins: Wolverine got in 2009. It had a venue average of $15,380. The very well reviewed comic book flick cost Fox $160 million make, so this is a fairly strong start to a very expensive film. However, like Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, it will likely make less stateside that it does worldwide. As we turn more and more to look at international box office sales, one has to think that overseas grosses will match what this one earns stateside, so if we double the domestic opening to a $112 million start against a $160 million budget, the result is is very, very good. Just ask Thor – that one cost $150 million to make, opened to $65 million, and has a worldwide gross of $420 million so far.
X-Men: First Class got off to a strong start at Thursday midnight screenings. Late night showings amounted to $3.4 million for Professor X and Magneto, and at that point some thought the prequel was going to eclipse $60 million, well beyond what tracking – and 20th Century Fox - was looking for. Despite not reaching the $60 million figure, tracking and expectations were still blown away, as some were looking for First Class to finish in the high-$40 millions instead of the mid-$50 millions. Whether First Class is a prequel or a reboot, it does take the franchise back to the beginning. The first X-Men movie opened to $54.5 million, although that was 11 years ago, back in July of 2000. That first X-Men had an opening day figure of $21.4 million, virtually identical to the First Class Friday figure of $21.2 million.
If the X-Men franchise has gone backwards in terms of grosses by 11 years, can First Class be considered a success? First, let's look at the past. We know the first X-Men film opened to $55 million; the second, X2: X-Men United, took in $86 million in 2003, and was followed by X-Men: The Last Stand, which grossed a massive $103 million over its first three days. The third film was the peak of this franchise, as the opening for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, went backward to what the second film earned, taking in $85 million over its opening weekend.