The X-Men franchise is nearly 14 years old, and is coming off its two lowest-grossing entries yet in X-Men: First Class and The Wolverine. The first of those was a reboot with unfamiliar faces, while the other one was a niche crime saga that was light on big-budget spectacle. X-Men: Days of Future Past seems to correct both of those issues, and should have no problem doing significantly better business.
The movie uses a time travel story to mix the original X-Men cast with the First Class team, which has seen its collective profile improve drastically in recent years (thanks mostly to Jennifer Lawrence's meteoric rise). It also features the first big-screen representation of the Sentinels, which allow for some impressive visuals while also raising the stakes significantly (a commercial voiceover declares "The world's greatest threat will face the world's most powerful team"). While it may not get an Avengers-style bump, the movie will likely set new franchise highs at the domestic ($234 million) and international ($282 million) box office.
Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore romantic comedy Blended is also opening over Memorial Day weekend. While Sandler has had a few missteps lately—we're looking at you, Jack and Jill and That's My Boy—the performance of Grown Ups 2 ($133.7 million) does suggest he still has a fairly loyal fanbase.
Along the same lines as the Grown Ups movies, Blended seems to balance crude humor with broad family entertainment, which makes it well-positioned in a Summer season that's curiously light on family movies. Add in co-star Barrymore—who previously worked with Sandler on two of his more well-liked movies—and Blended could come close to $100 million.
On the heels of 2010's Alice in Wonderland and 2013's Oz The Great and Powerful, Maleficent is the latest in Disney's series of effects-heavy live-action fantasy movies. Both of those movies did strong business at the domestic box office, though Oz the Great and Powerful was a bit of a slouch overseas.
Maleficent retells the Sleeping Beauty story from the villain's perspective, which is an odd choice that you probably only make if you have Angelina Jolie playing said villain. Marketing for the movie makes it appear similar to 2012 hit Snow White and the Huntsman, though Maleficent's "PG" rating should make it an easier sell with family audiences. Don't expect this to be the next Oz, but also don't be surprised if it matches Snow White's $155.3 million.
A Million Ways to Die in the West is writer/director Seth MacFarlane's follow-up to 2012 comedy sensation Ted, which earned $218.8 million at the domestic box office and a stunning $330.6 million overseas. Million Ways doesn't seem to have that movie's infectious appeal, and MacFarlane's presence in front of the camera is going to be a turn-off to some.
Still, previews are funny enough, and audiences seem to be warming up to Westerns in recent years. Dating back to 2010, there have been five Westerns released in over 3,000 locations: all five earned over $89 million at the domestic box office and over $81 million overseas. A Million Ways should be get to those levels as well.