Weekend Report: 'First Class' Ranks Last Among 'X-Men'
Wolverine's absence was felt as X-Men: First Class's attendance hit a franchise low in its debut. The Hangover Part II crashed after a wild opening, while Kung Fu Panda 2 didn't save face.

X-Men: First Class squeaked by with a passable $55.1 million on approximately 6,900 screens at 3,641 locations, and it's looking more like the fanboy fantasia it sounded like when first announced than something that will advance the franchise. Sure, the first X-Men movie opened to $54.5 million, but $55.1 million in 2011 is far less impressive than $54.5 million in 2000. The first X-Men's start was the equivalent of over $79 million adjusted for ticket price inflation. More telling, though, is that First Class marked a sizable step down from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which made $85.1 million in its opening weekend.

Earlier this summer, a Marvel Comics adaptation of a lesser character, Thor, mustered $65.7 million out of the gate (though attendance was about the same as X-Men: First Class after adjusting for 3D), and First Class drew less than The Incredible Hulk's $55.4 million from June 2008. In fact, First Class had the lowest opening for a major Marvel Comics adaptation since Ghost Rider in early 2007. Some would like to think of Batman Begins as a more appropriate comparison, but even that picture fared relatively better: its first weekend was $48.7 million (after burning off demand with a Wednesday launch) or the equivalent of nearly $60 million adjusted for ticket-price inflation. The debut of another fanboy fantasia, Watchmen, could be a better comparison to First Class: Both were ensemble period pieces and both had exceptionally high results in Box Office Mojo's "when will you see it" polling that didn't translate to correspondingly high grosses.

Distributor 20th Century Fox's exit polling indicated that 58 percent of X-Men: First Class's audience was male and 54 percent was over 25 years old. That means First Class skewed more male than Wolverine (53 percent). The hope now is for First Class to hold well moving forward, but that's unlikely, given the history of the franchise and the genre. The previous X-Men movies all flamed out after their first weekends, including the supposed good ones (X2 and the first X-Men). If First Class holds as well as the first X-Men and X2, that would give it a final gross range of $141 million to $162 million (Wolverine closed with $179.9 million), but, if its pattern hews closer to The Last Stand and Wolverine, it would wind up with $118 million to $128 million.

X-Men: First Class's opening reiterates the danger of rebooting a still prominent franchise without a clean break and the passage of a lot of time (Wolverine was just two years ago). While wanting to restart things after the purported quality issues of Wolverine and X-Men: The Last Stand was understandable, First Class was just a Wolverine-less prequel to the public and couldn't shake the baggage of those last two movies. First Class's marketing, which sent mixed messages by including references to the previous movies, didn't go into the movie's actual story. It merely focused on seeing what the X-Men were like when they were young and the brewing disagreement between Professor X and Magneto, which was already covered in the previous movies. All things considered, then, First Class's $56 million start wasn't too shabby and certainly displayed the continued popularity of the franchise.

The Hangover Part II tumbled 63 percent to $31.4 million, which was less than the first Hangover's $32.8 million second weekend. The percentage drop was worse than Sex and the City 2's at the same point last year and, of course, was much steeper than the first Hangover's 27 percent fall. Since Wednesday, Hangover Part II has been making less or about the same amount as its predecessor, though its cumulative gross towered over it with $185.8 million in 11 days, ranking as the second-fastest grossing R-rated movie ever behind The Matrix Reloaded.

Kung Fu Panda 2 didn't take the same beating as Hangover Part II, but it was still battered in its second weekend. Retreating 50 percent, the animated sequel generated $23.9 million, increasing its sum to $100 million in 11 days. The percentage drop was more extreme than Madagascar (41 percent) and any Shrek movie at the same post-Memorial Day point. The first Kung Fu Panda was down 44 percent in its second weekend (which was a week later on the calendar), and it pulled in $33.6 million and had a much higher total. Panda 2's 3D share did not improve as the format accounted for 44 percent of business.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides continued its descent: off 55 percent, the supernatural swashbuckler grabbed $18 million for a $190.2 million tally in 17 days. Bridesmaids, on the other hand, delivered another stellar hold. The comedy again had the smallest decline among nationwide holdovers, easing 27 percent to $12 million and increasing its sum to $107.2 million in 24 days. Meanwhile, its Universal Pictures stable mate, Fast Five, joined the $200 million club on Saturday, its 37th day of release (and it remained the top-grossing movie of 2011 so far).

In limited release, Midnight in Paris expanded to 147 locations (up from 58 last weekend) and scored a solid $2.8 million. With a $6.8 million tally in 17 days, it's already out-grossed director Woody Allen's last two movies You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and Whatever Works. Midnight's major test comes June 10 when it has its nationwide break at between 750 and 1,000 locations. The Tree of Life added 16 locations for a total of 20 and made $618,291. Its $3,915 per location average was the highest of the weekend, though it was down two-thirds from its average last weekend.

Related Stories:

Around-the-World Roundup: 'Pirates' Out-Class 'X-Men'

Weekend Forecast: 'X-Men' to Pass Muster

Extended Summer Forecast: 'Harry Potter,' 'Transformers' & More Vie for Top Gross

Last Weekend

'Hangover' Gets Higher with Sequel, 'Panda' Loses Weight

This Timeframe in Past Years:

• 2010 -
'Shrek' Reigns Over Meager Parade Again

• 2009 - 'Up' Lifts Pixar to Tenth Smash

• 2009 - 'Hangover' Gets High, 'Up' Hangs On

• 2008 - 'Panda,' 'Zohan' Come Out Fighting

• 2007 - 'Pirates' Sinks, 'Knocked Up' Scores

• 2007 - 'Thirteen' Less Than 'Twelve,' 'Eleven'

• 2006 - Exes Exceed 'X-Men'

• 2006 - Pixar Manufactures Seventh Smash with 'Cars'

• 2005 - 'Cinderella Man' Pulls Punch, 'Madagascar' Claims Title

• 2005 - 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith' Honeymoons at the Top

• 2004 - Hotter 'Potter:' Summer Move Yields Franchise High Start

• 2003 - '2 Fast 2 Furious' Revs Up, 'Nemo' Strong in Second

• 2002 - 'Sum of All Fears' Detonates in First Place

• 2002 - 'Bad' Business for Bruckheimer's Latest

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Weekend Box Office Results

• All Time June Opening Weekends

• Showdown: 'X-Men Vs. X-Men'

• Showdown: 'Hangover' Vs. 'Hangover'

• Showdown: 'Panda Vs. Panda'