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film news

X-Men: First Class takes $21 million on Friday

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Saturday, June 4, 2011

X-Men: First Class opened yesterday and took in an estimated $21 million dollars in ticket sales, including $3.3m from midnight screenings. $21 million sounds like a pretty decent number for just its first day, but when you stop and think about it some more, it's actually kind of disappointing for the X-Men movie franchise.

Just two years ago X-Men Origins: Wolverine grossed $34.4 million on its first day of release. That film had a big star at its center, namely Hugh Jackman, and 20th Century Fox had carefully built up Jackman's name to correspond with his X-Men character, Wolverine. Nevertheless, based on bad critical review and an early rough cut of the film that was leaked to the Internet, Wolverine finished its domestic theatrical run with just a hair under $180 million dollars.

Eleven years ago the first X-Men movie opened. This was a film that Coming Attractions had followed very closely in its development and production. X-Men opened on its Friday with $20.7m and closed its first weekend with $54.4m in ticket sales.

Let's now compare X-Men: First Class with Thor, another Marvel Comics superhero movie out this summer. Less than a month ago, Thor's first day gross was $25.4m and its three-day opening weekend gross was $65.7m. Based on its Friday opening, First Class is likely to finish its opening weekend with $55m or so in the bank, or about $10m less than Thor made during its opening weekend.

So after conditioning the public to the X-Men superhero franchise with four films, why is First Class opening so softly? It's likely due to three components: the poor public response to X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine which are generally not as liked as the first two X-Men films; the short five year gap between the reboot of the X-Men franchise and The Last Stand; and the lack of A-list stars in First Class to bring in a wider audience.

On the up side, reviews for X-Men: First Class have been fairly positive, so the film could have longer legs at theaters and on video.

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