By Anthony D'Alessandro | Thompson on Hollywood June 5, 2011 at 4:10AM
Great reviews propelled reboot X-Men: First Class to a solid if not stellar $56 million opening. Anthony D'Alessandro explains why.
Fox’s X-Men: First Class easily aced its weekend course in box office math by absorbing a solid $56 million into Fox’s coffers.
Yes, that’s not as high as the other X-Men films, but keep in mind that X-Men: First Class is a complete reboot with a fresh cast, and such titles often bow at a decent, non-record breaking figure, and wind up their runs with a three to four domestic multiple: see Casino Royale ($40.8 million opening, $167.4 million), Batman Begins ($48.7 million, $205.3 million) and Star Trek ($75.2 million, $257.7 million). The opening for X-Men: First Class is one that any studio would envy, particularly for a tentpole budgeted at $160 million. X-Men: First Class’ returns are further evidence that the B.O. summer market remains vigorous, especially with this weekend’s $158 million-plus besting the year ago frame of $128.8 million by 23%.
Top Ten Chart, X-Men review links, trailer below.
However, Hollywood has become somewhat spoiled by routine $80 million-plus domestic openings on superhero films. With Thor’s just-OK bow of $65.7 million and X-Men: First Class’ ranking fourth-best in its series (X-Men: The Last Stand owns the record first frame of $102.8 million), is the superhero genre getting moth holes in its cape? Globally speaking, no. Paramount’s Thor currently stands at an estimated $427 million, having already outstripped the worldwide returns of Batman Begins ($372.7 million) and any single Fantastic Four or Hulk title.
X-Men: First Class worldwide bow stands at $120 million, $64 million of which came from 75 territories. Typically, X-Men films, except for Wolverine, take in slightly less than domestic in the end, but X-Men: First Class exceeded domestic in its first frame.
While many believe that producers Bryan Singer and Lauren Shuler Donner didn’t need to refresh the X-Men franchise, the series was showing signs of running long in the Sabretooth. Critical response for the last two films, X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($180 million) and X-Men: Last Stand ($234.4 million) fell to respective critical lows of 37% and 57% rotten . X-Men: Last Stand had traded in character for big bangs. It was essential that X-Men: First Class return to basics. Mission accomplished: The reboot’s Tomatometer surged to 87% fresh, a height on par with the first two installments.
In an avant-garde marketing move for a Marvel title, Fox and the producers didn’t trot out the film at Comic-Con or Wondercon, nor did they over-saturate the web with large amounts of marketing material. They teased a small set of photos in January before releasing a slew last month. Fox specifically sought out fans on Facebook with the first trailer in February and also cross-branded with the site’s social network game Mafia Wars. Promotional partners included a Best Buy London trip sweepstakes, as well as targeting the Red State demo with Army spots and adults with Farmers Insurance ads.
Demo breakdown was 58% guys, 42% females with over 25 dominating at 54%. Cinemascore earned are an A- grade for those under 25 and B+ for 25 and up.
Most of all, so as not to sideline families with premium pricing, X-Men: First Class didn't jump onto the -3D bandwagon per Shuler Donner who exclaimed at yesterday’s Produced By confab, “I believe the movie itself tells you whether it should be 3D. And I believe there’s a little too much 3D right now.”
Another big winner to come out of this weekend is director Matthew Vaughn, who attempted to change the game on superhero films with Kick-Ass, which failed commercially ($48.1 million). X-Men: First Class clearly shows that he has enough mutant powers to open tentpoles.
Outside of X-Men auditoriums, folks took a break from moviegoing after their record spending over Memorial Day. Most top 10 films saw declines of 50% or greater. Still business wasn’t lethargic exactly, with Fast Five crossing the two century mark and Bridesmaids taking in over $107 million. Sony Pictures Classics and Fox Searchlight continued to jockey for adults with auteur expansions of Woody Allen’s well-reviewed Midnight in Paris--up 51% with a $2.9 million weekend--and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, up 66% with a $621,000 three-day and a 10-day cume of $1.3 million. Fox Searchlight added San Francisco, Austin, Chicago, D.C., Dallas, Atlanta and Minneapolis to its Tree of Life play this weekend and moved up its national release of 200-plus runs from July to June 24th. Next weekend, Midnight in Paris goes wide in 750 to 1,000 locales. Go, Woody!
Top Ten Weekend Box Office Chart:
1. X-Men: First Class $56 million in its first weekend at 3,641 theaters. $15,380 theater average. Domestic total: $56 million.
2. The Hangover Part II $32.4 million down 62% in its second weekend at 3,615 theaters. $8,975 theater average. Domestic total: $186.9 million.
3. Kung Fu Panda 2 $24.3 million down 49% in its second weekend at 3,952 theaters. $6,149 theater average. Domestic total: $100.4 million.
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $18 million down 55% in its third weekend at 3,966 theaters. $4,541 theater average. Domestic total: $190.3 million.
5. Bridesmaids (Universal) $12.1 million down 27% in its fourth weekend at 2,919 theaters. $4,155 theater average. Domestic total: $107.3 million.
6. Thor (Paramount/Marvel) $4.2 million down 56% in its fifth weekend at 2,780 theaters. $1,511 theater average. Domestic total: $169.1 million.
7. Fast Five (Universal) $3.2 million down 50% in its sixth weekend at 2,237 theaters. $1,450 theater average. Domestic total: $202.1 million.
8. Midnight in Paris (Sony Pictures Classics) $2.92 million up 51% in its third weekend at 147 theaters. $19,838 theater average. Domestic total: $6.9 million.
9. Jumping the Broom (Sony/TriStar) $865K down 52% in its fifth weekend at 589 theaters. $1469 theater average. Domestic total: $35.9 million.
10. Something Borrowed (Warner Bros.) $835K down 55% in its fifth weekend at 688 theaters. $1,214 theater average. Domestic total: $36.7 million.
X-Men: First Class, Twentieth Century Fox | Dir: Matthew Vaughn; Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Kevin Bacon | TOH! Review Round-up | TOH! Interviews Scripter/producer Simon Kinberg.