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Fox’s ‘X-Men’ Sequel Topples ‘Godzilla’ With $90.7 Million

X-Men: Days of Future Past
“X-Men: Days of Future Past,” starring Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, is the second of a new trilogy that Fox is producing. Source: 21st Century Fox Inc.

May 26 (Bloomberg) -- “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” the latest film in the Marvel Comics series about mutants with super powers, opened with U.S. and Canadian weekend sales of $90.7 million for 21st Century Fox Inc., easily surpassing its 2011 predecessor.

“X-Men” pushed aside “Godzilla,” a new take on the 1950s monster film, to claim the No. 1 spot in the extended U.S. Memorial Day weekend, Rentrak Corp. said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “Godzilla” garnered $31.4 million for Legendary Entertainment LLC and its partner and distributor Warner Bros., placing second. “Blended,” a Warner Bros. romantic comedy, opened third with $14.2 million.

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. Six previous pictures have collected $2.4 billion globally for the studio since 2000. “X-Men: First Class,” which kicked off the new series in 2011, took in $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.

Results were in line with analysts’ predictions, said Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.

‘Incredibly Impressive’

“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.

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. Walt Disney Co. 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.

Impending Doom

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 a week ago, has collected $148.8 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.

Barrymore, Sandler

“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 fell 29 percent to $175.6 million from a year earlier, Rentrak data showed. Domestic box-office sales year to date are up 4 percent from a year earlier to $3.96 billion.

Tough Comparison

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 and May 24 and estimates for yesterday.

                     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

Source: Rentrak Corp.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anousha Sakoui in London at asakoui@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net; Ben Livesey at blivesey@bloomberg.net; Sylvia Wier at swier@bloomberg.net Greg Storey

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