“X-Men: Days of Future Past,” the latest film in the Marvel Comics series about mutants with super powers, opened with $111 million in domestic sales for 21st Century Fox Inc. (FOXA:US) through the extended holiday weekend, as it easily surpassed its 2011 predecessor’s debut.
“X-Men” pushed aside “Godzilla,” a new take on the 1950s monster film, to claim the No. 1 spot in the U.S. Memorial Day weekend, Rentrak Corp. said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “Godzilla” garnered $39.4 million for Legendary Entertainment LLC and its partner and distributor Warner Bros., placing second. “Blended,” a Warner Bros. romantic comedy, opened third with $18.2 million in Friday-to-Monday sales.
Studios often look to sequels to outdraw the previous films. “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” starring Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, is the second of a new trilogy that Fox is producing. The new movie opened with $90.7 million over three days, compared with “X-Men: First Class,” which kicked off the new series in 2011 and collected $55.1 million in its debut.
“This was a solid Memorial Day weekend led by a terrific performance from ‘X-Men,’” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst at Rentrak.
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” was projected to collect $115 million over the long weekend, according to the forecast of BoxOffice.com. Over three days, the sales met the researcher’s projections, said Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.
“The global total is going to be around $262 million after just one weekend,” Contrino said. “That’s incredibly impressive.”
Fox said in a statement the film had the highest-grossing opening weekend globally of the “X-Men” franchise. Including the new picture’s debut sales, the series has collected $2.61 billion globally for the studio since 2000, according to Box Office Mojo.
The U.S. Memorial Day weekend routinely ranks among the biggest of the year for Hollywood. “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” part of the Walt Disney Co. adventure series, collected a record for the long weekend with $139.8 million in 2007, according to Rentrak.
Historically, the holiday marked the beginning of the summer blockbuster season until Hollywood recently started releasing its big-budget pictures earlier, spreading out the schedule so films don’t cannibalize each other. Disney followed that strategy with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which took in $95 million in its April opening for the biggest debut year to date.
Fox scheduled “X-Men” a few weeks before soccer’s World Cup is due to start, to ensure that its young male audience isn’t preoccupied on its release.
The movie had an estimated production budget of $200 million, according to Box Office Mojo, and has received a favorable reception, with a positive rating of 90 percent from Rottentomatoes.com, a reviews aggregator.
In the film, which also stars Ian McKellen, Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender, the X-Men send Wolverine, played by Jackman, back in time to change history and avert impending doom for humans and mutants. “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” with director Bryan Singer at the helm again, joins actors from the first trilogy of movies with the cast of the more recent pictures.
“The director melds the past and the future together, mixing eras and metaphors in ways both hard-core fans and the completely uninitiated can enjoy and understand,” wrote Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times.
“Godzilla,” which opened at No. 1 in its debut the previous weekend, has collected $156.8 million domestically, as of yesterday, according to Rentrak. Featuring “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston, the film beat forecasts on its debut and is likely to be made into a sequel, providing recurring revenue for Legendary Entertainment.
In the film, Godzilla is pitted against two huge cockroach-like beasts that emerge, bent on destruction, 15 years after the troubling events at a Japanese nuclear plant. The movie was projected to collect $49 million over the holiday weekend.
“Blended,” with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, was the only other new film opening in wide release. Sandler and Barrymore play a couple who, after their blind date goes badly, end up stuck together at a family resort with their kids.
The movie offered an alternative for couples who weren’t looking for an action film. Reviews were mostly negative, with a positive rating of just 15 percent on Rottentomatoes.com. The film had been projected to have $25 million in receipts over the long weekend.
Weekend revenue for the top 10 films through Sunday fell 29 percent to $175.6 million from a year earlier, Rentrak data showed. Domestic box-office sales this year through May 25 are up 4 percent from a year earlier to $3.97 billion.
Revenue over the long weekend was down 29 percent to $218 million, from a year earlier, Rentrak said yesterday. Comparisons to the record-breaking holiday period a year ago are tough, Rentrak’s Dergarabedian said. The 2013 Memorial Day weekend featured the quadruple threat of “Fast & Furious 6,” “Hangover 3,” “Star Trek” and “Epic.”
The following table has U.S. movie box-office figures provided by studios to Rentrak. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales for May 23, May 24 and estimates for May 25. Yesterday’s receipts are not included.Rev. Pct. Avg./ Total Movie (mln) Chg. Theaters Theater (mln) Wks ================================================================ 1 X-Men $90.7 -- 3,996 $22,698 $90.7 1 2 Godzilla 31.4 -66 3,952 7,952 148.8 2 3 Blended 14.2 -- 3,555 4,007 14.2 1 4 Neighbors 13.9 -44 3,266 4,270 113.6 3 5 Spider-Man 2 7.8 -54 3,160 2,468 184.9 4 6 Million Dollar Arm 7.1 -33 3,019 2,349 20.6 2 7 Other Woman, The 3.7 -42 2,154 1,706 77.8 5 8 Rio 2 2.5 -33 1,701 1,470 121.6 7 9 Chef 2.3 219 498 4,538 3.5 3 10 Heaven Is For Real 1.95 -55 1,720 1,134 85.8 6 Top 10 Films Grosses This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $175.6 $248.0 -29 Year-to-date Revenue 2014 2013 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $3,966 $3,803 +4.3 Source: Rentrak Corp. (RENT:US)
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