Box-Office Preview: 'X-Men: Apocalypse,' 'Alice 2' Suit Up for Memorial Day Battle

Disney/20th Century Fox
'Alice Through the Looking Glass' (left), 'X-Men: Apocalypse'

If tracking is correct, the superhero mutants should prevail and win the holiday crown ahead of Alice and her quirky friends, a gaggle that includes Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter.

The Memorial Day box office will brim over with unusual characters this year as Fox's X-Men: Apocalypse and Disney's Alice Through the Looking Glass go head to head over the long holiday weekend.

If tracking is correct, Bryan Singer's Apocalypse — the fourth X-Men film he's directed — will emerge the victor with a four-day debut north of $85 million for Fox. (If rumors prove true, it will be the last chance for moviegoers to see Jennifer Lawrence play the character Mystique).

Either way, Memorial Day 2016 should prove an healthy uptick over last year, when Tomorrowland opened to an anemic $42.7 million.

Bullish box-office observers think Apocalypse could even near $100 million, but Fox is being more circumspect in the wake of mediocre reviews. Apocalypse currently has a 52 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to 92 percent for Singer's X-Men: Days of Future Past, which debuted to $110.6 million on Memorial Day weekend in 2014.

Marking the ninth outing in the X-Men series, including the smash hit Deadpool, Apocalypse's net budget is  $178 million before marketing costs.

James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne and Lucas Till are among those reprising their roles, while a raft of new actors join the franchise. The latter category includes Oscar Isaac, Alexandra Shipp, Tye Sheridan, Olivia Munn, Sophie Turner, Ben Hardy and Kodi Smit-McPhee. Also, Hugh Jackman makes a cameo as Wolverine.

This time out, the superheroes must stop Apocalypse, an ancient mutant played by Isaac who wakes up and is intent on destroying mankind.

Disney insiders suggest Alice Through the Looking Glass will open in the low $60 million range; outside the studio, some think it will come in closer to $55 million. In early March 2010, director Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland stunned when opening to $116.1 million on its way to earning $1.025 billion globally.

Burton didn't return to direct Through the Looking Glass; instead James Babin, who helmed the Muppets franchise for Disney, took over directing duties. Castmembers Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman reprise their roles, while Sacha Baron Cohen is among the newcomers to the live-action, family-friendly franchise.

Through the Looking Glass' cost is on par with its rival, Apocalypse, at $170 million.

As in North America, competition among the two summer tentpoles could be fierce overseas, where Apocalypse already has amassed north of $100 million (the superhero movie opened a week early in some foreign markets). This weekend, Through the Looking Glass debuts in the majority of offshore markets, including China, the U.K., Australia, Mexico and Brazil.

Among holdovers, Captain America: Civil War, The Angry Birds Movie, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising and The Jungle Book should stay high up on the holiday chart.

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