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Weekend Box Office: X-Men: First Class Tops Field with Prequel-Size $56 Million

Thompson on Hollywood 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.
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Thompson on Hollywood

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.

Thompson on Hollywood
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.


This article is related to: Box Office, Franchises, Genres, Studios, Marketing, Summer, Kick-Ass, X-Men, Sequel, Comics, Action, Fox Searchlight, Twentieth Century Fox, Sony/Screen Gems/Sony Pictures Classics


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.