Box Office: 'X-Men: First Class' is No. 1 but comes up short against other films in the superhero franchise [Updated]
"X-Men: First Class" may have taken the top spot at the box office this weekend, but it still lost out against most of the previous installments in the superhero franchise.
The film was the only new movie in wide release this weekend and grossed $56 million, according to an estimate from studio 20th Century Fox. That's a pretty good but not great start, considering that Fox and co-financers Dune Capital Management and Ingenious Media spent about $160 million, before tax credits, to produce the movie.
It's also the lowest opening of any "X-Men" film since the original debuted in 2000. That movie, "X-Men," collected $54.5 million when it opened over a decade ago. Since, the "X-Men" films have seen far higher opening weekends, the biggest coming in 2006 with the third film, "X-Men: The Last Stand's" first Memorial Day weekend haul of $105.8 million. And even though the fourth film, 2009's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," tumbled to $85.1 million upon its debut, that was still far more than the fifth film was able to rake in this weekend.
Fox executives have attempted to pin the decline in ticket sales for "First Class" on a variety of factors. To start, this installment -- which explains the origins of the superhero team in the 1960s -- is a prequel which attempts to reboot the series.
This is also the first "X-Men" film that does not star recognizable A-lister Hugh Jackman -- although the actor has a brief cameo in the film. Instead, it features an ensemble cast of lesser-known but still critically acclaimed actors like independent film star Michael Fassbender, British actor James McAvoy and recent best actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence.
And unlike previous installments in the franchise, which were directed by the likes of bigger names like Bryan Singer and Brett Ratner, "First Class" was helmed by Matthew Vaughn. While Vaughn has garnered acclaim for independent films like last year's "Kick-Ass," the fifth "X-Men" film (which was produced by Singer) is by far the most expensive production he has ever worked on.
Audiences gave "First Class" an average grade of "B+" according to market research firm CinemaScore, which could lead to solid word-of-mouth in the coming weeks. The film also has a good shot of making up much of its production cost overseas, as all of the previous four "X-Men" movies have made about as much abroad as they have domestically.
Meanwhile, ticket sales for "The Hangover Part II" dropped 62% in the film's second week of release. The comedy about three guys who have a wild night out in Bangkok grossed an additional $32.4 million this weekend, bringing the film's domestic tally to $186.8 million. The first "Hangover" film dropped just 27% on its second weekend, benefitting from phenomenal buzz reflected by an "A" CinemaScore. While the sequel received an average grade of "A-," the film opened on a holiday weekend when far more people were anticipating it and rushed out to see it.
"Kung Fu Panda 2," which also opened over Memorial Day, did not have as big a drop in ticket sales. Receipts for the 3-D picture fell 49% this weekend -- not a fantastic hold for an animated family film -- as the movie grossed an additional $24.3 million. The film crossed the $100-million mark at the domestic box office this weekend and its total now stands at $100.4 million. Overseas, the film played in 28 foreign markets and sold $40 million worth of tickets this weekend, bringing its international total to $125 million.
In limited release, Focus Features opened "Beginners" at five theaters in Los Angeles and New York and the film grossed $135,193. That means the movie starring Ewan McGregor as a man who finds out his father (played by Christopher Plummer) has cancer had a so-so per-theater average of $27,038. Weinstein Co.'s "Submarine," about a 15-year-old attempting to lose his virginity, did not do as well. The movie opened in two theaters in New York and two in Los Angeles and collected $40,754 for a soft per-theater average of $10,189.
[Updated at 11:19 a.m.: "X-Men: First Class" opened in 74 foreign markets this weekend and collected $64 million, performing best in Britain and France.
Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, with international grosses when available, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:
2. "The Hangover Part II" (Warner Bros./Legendary): $32.4 million on its second weekend, down 62%. Domestic total: $186.9 million. $62 million overseas in 53 foreign markets. International total: $151.5 million.
3. "Kung Fu Panda 2" (Dreamworks Animation/Paramount): $24.3 million on its second weekend, down 49%. Domestic total: $100.4 million. $40 million overseas in 28 foreign markets. International total: $125 million.
4. "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (Disney): $18 million on its third weekend, down 55%. Domestic total: $190.3 million. $69.4 million overseas in more than 100 foreign markets. International total: $600.4 million.
5. "Bridesmaids" (Universal/Relativity): $12.1 million on its fourth weekend, down 27%. Domestic total: $107.3 million.
6. "Thor" (Marvel/Paramount): $4.2 million on its fifth weekend, down 56%. Domestic total: $169.1 million. $1.6 million overseas in 60 foreign markets. International total: $258 million.
7. "Fast Five" (Universal): $3.2 million on its sixth weekend, down 49%. Domestic total: $202.1 million. $10 million overseas in 63 foreign markets. International total: $366.5 million.
8. "Midnight in Paris" (Sony Pictures Classics): $2.9 million in 147 theaters. Domestic total: $6.9 million.
9. "Jumping the Broom" (Sony TriStar): $865,000 on its fifth weekend, down 53%. Domestic total: $35.9 million.
10. "Something Borrowed" (Warner Bros./Alcon): $835,000 on its fifth weekend, down 55%. Domestic total: $36.7 million.]
-- Amy Kaufman
Photo: Michael Fassbender, left, Caleb Landry Jones, James McAvoy, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence and Lucas Till star in "X-Men: First Class." Credit: 20th Century Fox