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With several other franchise reboots in the works—led by Superman and Spider-Man—does the launch of 20th Century Fox’s prequel X-Men: First Class have any lessons to teach?
Directed by Matthew Vaughn, First Class debuted to $56 million in North America, well less than the opening gross of any of the last three films in the X-Men franchise. However, Fox maintained all along that was never the goal, saying First Class was completely different, with a new cast and director—and no Hugh Jackman. Rather, the studio’s aim was to match the $54.5 million domestic of the first X-Men in 2000, which it did.
“I think it is incredibly challenging to relaunch a franchise. There are preconceived ideas, as well as a comfort factor with continuity,” Fox senior vice president of domestic distribution Chris Aronson said. “We have met and conquered those challenges.”
Like First Class, Batman Begins didn’t sport a huge opening. Rather, Batman Begins had great legs, opening to $48.7 million at the domestic box office on its way to cuming $205.3 million. And Casino Royale opened to $40.8 million, but ultimately earned $167.4 million in North America.
The question now is whether First Class will have similar playing power. Going in its favor—it’s one of the best-reviewed films of the year, and received a B+ CinemaScore from moviegoers.
First Class played younger than Thor, with 46% of the audience under the age of 25, compared to 28% for Thor. But buoyed by 3D, Thor opened to $65.7 million. As with all the X-Men pics, First Class skewed male (58%).
According to exit surveys, moviegoers turned out for the film’s subject matter, followed by type of movie.
Fox said First Class played well across the country, led by larger urban areas.
Set in the 1960s against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War, First Class introduces Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) just as they’re discovering their mutant powers.
Starring opposite McAvoy and Fassbender are Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones, Nicholas Hoult and Zoe Kravitz. Kevin Bacon plays the villain.
The last film in the franchise was Jackman spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which debuted to $85.1 million, but quickly fell off. X-Men: The Last Stand opened to $102.8 million in 2006, while X2: X-Men United launched to $85.6 million in 2003.
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