Memorial Day Top Two Net Soft $73 million at the Box Office
By John Hamann
May 29, 2016
X-Men versus Johnny Depp and Disney – on paper, this should be a great way to start the silly summer season at the box office. However, this is the Memorial Day Weekend at the box office, a weekend where there are no guarantees. Anything can happen, from big hits to middling disappointments.
With X-Men: Apocalypse carrying a $178 million budget and Alice Through The Looking Glass costing $170 million to make, this was a historic showdown at the Memorial Day Weekend Box Office simply due to the size of the contenders. Both films would need to earn at least a half-billion worldwide to get to profit, so a decent domestic start would be key for both films. Fox was going to need an X-Men: Days of Future Past result ($748 million worldwide) instead of an X-Men: First Class result ($353.6 million worldwide).
One would think that Alice Through The Looking Glass would play to the result of its predecessor Alice in Wonderland ($116 million opening weekend, $334 million domestic gross, $1 billion worldwide), but with six years in between films, no Tim Burton, and a recent Johnny Depp resume that has included The Long Ranger and Transcendence, Through The Looking Glass was going to need a miracle to over-perform compared to the original.
These days, when betting on box office, never bet against the comic book movie. X-Men fans turned out this weekend and buried Johnny Depp badly. X-Men: Apocalypse got started on Thursday night at previews, earning a powerful $8.2 million, more than the $8.1 million earned on Thursday by X-Men: Days of Future Past. Things were looking up for the sequel, as the Thursday was up, and one of the biggest long weekends of the year was stretched out in front of it. Unfortunately, X-Men: Apocalypse had to work uphill from there. The problem is that this X-Men pales in comparison quality-wise to the previous film, Days of Future Past. That film earned a fresh rating of 91%, four points better than the 87% rating that X-Men: First Class earned in 2011. X-Men Apocalypse has a much lower fresh rating at only 48%, and a more troubling 36% when looking at what RottenTomatoes calls "top critics." In these days of the social media revolution, this was going to catch up to our heroes over the long weekend.
The Friday number came in at $26.4 million, underwhelming considering the hot start from Thursday previews. Days of Future Past had an opening day of $35.5 million, which led to an impressive three-day weekend of $90.8 million and a four-day Memorial Day weekend haul of $110.6 million. Obviously, the same kind of success was not going to be found with Apocalypse. The question was whether it could position itself to recapture that massive $178 million budget.
The good news is that X-Men: Apocalypse has already gotten a strong start last weekend overseas, earning $115.4 million prior the domestic opening. That start takes the pressure off the domestic gross, as if it earns $300 million overseas, it will only need $200 million domestic for Fox to see a theatrical profit.