Monday Morning Quarterback Part II

By BOP Staff

May 29, 2014

Kevin Durant's look of surprise speaks volumes about Serge's play.

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Edwin Davies: Whose presence do you think was more responsible for X-Men's strong start: the old cast (i.e. Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan) or the new cast (i.e. James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence)?

Jay Barney: I think the credit for X-Men's success is balanced. Sure Wolverine is by far the most marketable character, and he has had a key role in six of the seven films, but it goes beyond that. One could almost argue that Stewart and McKellan have so much success over the decades, that their group is the primary draw, but I think it cuts the content of the current film short. It just wasn't about the "older" group. Jennifer Lawrence is huge right now, and Michael Fassbender has a resume that is impressive. McAvoy is perhaps the least known of any of the leads. I think it is clear the film is about much more than just the old cast.

Bruce Hall: I'm not sure it was necessarily the cast, although it's hard to deny that even people who aren't particularly interested in super heroes are unable to resist Hugh Jackman. And, I do think that Wolverine works best as part of an ensemble. For some, no doubt that was the hook.

I think a solid marketing strategy - including some very appealing trailers - was a big part of this success story, and a stream of early and overwhelmingly positive reviews made this an easy choice for many.

But on a very basic level I would say that it was made clear early on that by bringing Bryan Singer back into the fold, Fox was dead serious about making a good movie. Early word got out that they'd done just that, and the Internet Hyperbole Vortex did the rest. It's certainly the most ambitious super hero film ever attempted, and the fact they actually pulled it off suggest that once again, Mr. Singer has set a new bar.

Edwin Davies: I think that the return of the old guard, both in front of and behind the camera, was a big part of what made this such a strong opening weekend. Even though the First Class cast have seen their stock increase precipitously since the first film came out (well, some more than others) I don't think the first film convinced enough people that the X-Men series was worth returning to, even if it did right the boat as far as critics were concerned and still did solid business. Bringing the original cast and director in signaled both a continuity with the original trilogy (which was kind of unclear since First Class seemed to be starting fresh but also included a cameo by Wolverine) and suggested that people who really knew what they were doing were going to be in charge of shaping the film. The quality of the final product says a lot about how much everyone involved wanted, and possibly needed, to get this one right, but I do think that bringing back so many familiar faces really helped convince skeptics that it was worth dipping in to the X-Men world again, even if they had been burned on numerous previous occasions.


Max Braden: Every time I try to pick one trio, I look at the other and think that's the winner. You can't deny that your tried-and-true actors are a strong draw, but the other actors are really the new hotness in current movies right now. We want to see all of them. It helps too that the characters are so interesting that the reason we want to see both pairs is to see how they each approach the same character, in the character's early stages of enlightenment and after years of experience.

David Mumpower: I am a firm believer that every little bit helps. Rather than choose a side, my argument would be that the overwhelming popularity of several actors involved with the project paid dividends. The social media bromance between Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart is as viral as anything on the internet. It seems like they make headlines every quarter by doing something awesome.

I don’t know if we count him for the current or prior cast at this point, but Hugh Jackman is as popular as any actor in the world. Plus, the difference between him and most of his peers is that he has never experienced the media backlash that is almost automatic for high profile celebrities (you’ve been warned, Jennifer Lawrence). Jackman seems like such a kind and passionate man, and that provides him a shield against the casual libel that generally drives the Internet.

Amongst the new cast, Lawrence now claims yet another $90 million opening, her third. It is also her fourth $50+ million debut as well as her sixth (!) $100 million movie. She is 23-years-old. Her boyfriend, Nicholas Hoult, may not be a draw yet but he did star in last year’s surprise hit, Warm Bodies. Plus, he gets all kinds of media attention because he dates Jennifer Lawrence. And then there is Michael Fassbender, who has quickly become one of the most respected actors on the planet.

X-Men: Days of Future Past did not succeed because of any one individual (although I would pick Lawrence over Jackman if forced to choose). It excelled because it has more popular actors in the cast than almost any film in recent memory. In this regard, it is the first real demonstration that social media popularity can be a hidden factor in box office performance.

Kim Hollis: I actually believe that one of the primary reasons audiences were so interested in this film was the fact that both the new and the old cast were involved. It’s a tantalizing prospect to see how a story involving both sets of performers can possibly work, and lent a lot of mystery and anticipation to the film’s release. I’m not sure how much credit I’d give Singer, though. At this point, I have to think he’s as much of a detriment to the marketing as he is a credit. I think Fox is somewhat fortunate that bad headlines for him didn’t have much (if any) of an impact on the movie’s success.

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