The box-office numbers for every new release presents arguments for and against labeling the movie a hit. Some of these debates are lopsided -- "Mars Needs Moms" was inarguably a flop, and "Fast Five" an unmitigated success -- but other cases are more ambiguous. Among the trickier ones to come along this year is "X-Men: First Class," Fox's superhero action-adventure starring James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender.
Upon opening this weekend, the film took in $56 million in the U.S. and an additional $64 million in 74 markets overseas, according to estimates from the studio. Those would seem to be, as my colleague Amy Kaufman described in her post on our sister blog Company Town, "a pretty good but not great start" for a film that was, among other things, collecting only 2-D ticket prices.
An in-depth analysis, however, proves trickier. As Kaufman writes, the film had the lowest opening-weekend total of the three "X-Men" films that immediately preceded it, besting only the $54.5 million of the first movie. (The previous three editions tallied $85 million, $103 million and $86 million dating back to 2003.) That would seem to indicate a fall-off. But should the new movie be compared to those films and thus be deemed lacking, as some box-office pundits have it?
Or should "First Class" be seen as an entirely new beast, a la the first "X-Men," and regarded as a success, as the studio would no doubt prefer? As Fox senior vice president of distribution Chris Aronson told Kaufman, "I don't think [the fall-off from the recent films] is significant. It exceeded the first 'X-Men,' and this movie has an ensemble of actors who are not known. They are all incredibly talented, and they will now be known after this movie."