As the only new release of June’s first frame, X-Men: First Class easily claimed the top spot with an estimated $56 million from 3,641 locations. While that is nowhere near what the last three X-films earned in their debuts, let’s face it, First Class was never playing in their league.
|1||X-Men: First Class||$56,000,000||$56|
|2||The Hangover Part II||$32,445,000||$186.8|
|3||Kung Fu Panda 2||$24,300,000||$100.4|
|4||Pirates of the Caribbean 4||$18,010,000||$190.2|
|8||Midnight in Paris||$2,916,000||$6.9|
|9||Jumping the Broom||$865,000||$35.9|
Despite its lucrative lineage, X-Men: First Class was not a guaranteed blockbuster. Bottom line: no Wolverine meant a big question mark for this prequel/reboot. Six days ago, I even wondered if First Class could guarantee a first place finish. What if The Hangover Part II held well (as its predecessor had)? With its lackluster reviews and front-loaded opening, that didn’t seem likely but, First Class wasn’t tracking particularly well with general audiences. Even with the weekend all to itself, I never felt the groundswell of interest behind Matthew Vaughn’s origin story like I had for, say, Watchmen. And we all know what happened there.
So, as a fan of Vaughn’s and of the X-Men franchise, I see that $56 million as a big relief. Does First Class look like a superhero-sized hit? No. But did it pass the grade in terms of its first weekend? From where I’m sitting, absolutely. The last time we had a mutant in the theatres was May 2009. X-Men Origins: Wolverine opened to $85 million. Three years before that, X-Men: The Last Stand made $102.7 million in its own May debut. Of course, both of those films were reviled by fans and critics alike. There’s a reason that Fox has been comparing this film to Batman Begins instead of to entries in its own series – resetting the quality button on a once-beloved franchise is half the battle and, as the best critically reviewed X film since X2: X-Men United, Vaughn has so far succeeded.
Of course, it is beyond question that X-Men: First Class has the lowest opening of the franchise since the $54.4 million of the original (which comes to $69 million, adjusted for inflation) but, considering that most people do not see the film as part of that franchise, I’m not sure those comparisons are fair. Additionally, international estimates are not yet available, as I write, so we’ll have to hold some of our judgment in reserve.
Any suspicions I had last week about a surprise second week on top for The Hangover Part II look pretty ridiculous today. That’s because the sequel fell off by a big 62% this weekend instead of the 27% (!!) decline of the original. Spiritless derivation has its price. Of course, with Part II already the third highest grossing film of the year after eleven days, no one involved with the project is sweating the film’s poor word of mouth at this point.
All of that word of mouth that didn’t go to The Hangover Part II was, once again, held in reserve for Universal’s Bridesmaids. For the fourth weekend in a row the R-rated comedy saw the smallest drop of any title at 26%. Saturday also put the film over the $100 million mark domestically – a big achievement for any non-tentpole film, let alone a comedy starring a bunch of TV actresses. Saturday also marked the day that Universal’s Fast Five passed $200 million in the US – the first film of 2011 to make it to that particular milestone.
Next weekend director JJ Abrams returns with Super 8. And, just to be clear, this week I am not at all worried that the sci-fi film will fail to fall in first place…