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Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse easily topped the Friday box office with $26.4 million from 4,150 theaters for a projected $80 million domestic debut over the long Memorial Day weekend, somewhat behind expectations.
The holiday forecast is altogether grim for Disney’s family friendly Alice Through the Looking Glass. The sequel, skewered by critics, placed No. 2 Friday with roughly $9.7 million from 3,763 locations for a $40 million-$41 million debut — 65 percent behind director Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, which opened to a stunning $116 million in spring 2010.
In a public relations nightmare for Alice 2 star Johnny Depp, Through the Looking Glass began playing in theaters just as the actor’s wife, Amber Heard, was granted a restraining order after alleging Depp previously assaulted her. Earlier this week, Heard filed for divorce.
Alice 2 sees Depp once again star as the Mad Hatter, while Mia Wasikowska reprises her role as Alice. However, Burton didn’t return to direct Through the Looking Glass; instead James Bobin, who helmed the Muppets franchise for Disney, took over directing duties. The film cost $170 million to produce, and has been ravaged by critics, although it nabbed an A- CinemaScore from moviegoers.
Heading into the weekend, tracking suggested Alice 2 would launch with $55 million-$65 million, while bullish box-observers believed Apocalypse could near $100 million. Fox, however, was more conservative, saying $80 million-plus.
The studio knew Apocalypse wasn’t likely to match the $110.6 million debut of Singer’s Days of Future Past over Memorial Day weekend in 2014 considering it has a 48 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to 92 percent for Days of Future Past. Audiences liked Apocalypse better than critics did, giving it an A- CinemaScore.
On Friday afternoon, Apocalypse looked like it would open to $90 million or more, but traffic slowed as the evening wore on. Globally, the movie is in good shape, considering it has already amassed more than $130 million overseas, where it began rolling out last weekend.
Marking the ninth outing in the X-Men series and the fourth directed by Singer, Apocalypse‘s net budget is $178 million.
James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer 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.
X-Men: Apocalypse and Alice 2 aren’t the only two big Hollywood tentpoles opening this weekend. Overseas, Legendary and Universal’s video game adaptation Warcraft is debuting in its first 20 foreign markets ahead of its June 10 launch in North America.
Warcraft has earned $16.3 million in its first three days, including scoring the biggest opening day of the year in Germany on Thursday with $2.2 million. It also did big business in Russia on Thursday, grossing $2.8 million to secure the second-biggest opening day of the year to date behind Deadpool.
Among holdovers, Sony and Rovio’s The Angry Birds Movie has flown past the $200 million mark worldwide. In North America, the animated movie is expected to earn $24 million-$25 million in its second weekend for a third-place finish.
Holding at No. 4 is Disney and Marvel’s juggernaut, Captain America: Civil War. The superhero tentpole is poised to gross north of $21 million in its fourth weekend for a domestic total of roughly $380 million.
Universal’s R-rated comedy, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, should finish the holiday with an 11-day domestic gross just north of $40 million. The sequel, rounding out the top five, is expected to gross $11 million for the weekend.
May 27, 8:25 a.m. Updated.
May 27, 1 p.m. Updated.
May 28, 7:40 a.m. Updated.
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