Friday, May 23, 2014

‘X-Men’ eyes opening north of $100 million

The casts of both X-Men series -- the early 2000s films and more recent First Class reboot -- unite in this weekend’s hyped release, X-Men: Days of Future Past. The film’s star wattage is impressive: Hugh Jackman plays fan-favorite Wolverine; Internet darling Jennifer Lawrence is Mystique; lauded thesps Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen portray wizened versions of frenemies Professor X and Magneto, respectively; and the thinking woman’s eye-candy, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, are on board as Professor X and Magneto such as they were circa 1973. People travel back through time, buildings explode, a baseball stadium levitates. Add the Marvel name and Peter Dinklage, and Fox, though predicting returns in the mid $90-million range, should see a bow north of $100 million.

The studio has reason to be optimistic. Its marketing campaign has been strong, with an emphasis on premiere and promotional appearances from the cast. Jennifer Lawrence’s post-Oscars story of drunken embarrassment, for instance, related on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” and much speculated about prior to the segment’s air date, has been the Web’s hot topic of conversation for weeks.  X-Men advertisements are everywhere; apparently, 3D images from the film will be projected onto the busy streets of the Oxford Circus juncture in London later today.  And none of this even touches upon the existence of all those millions of X-Men, or just plain superhero, fans, who would show up to an X-Men film regardless of publicity, anyway.

Last weekend’s surprise monster hit Godzilla should continue to hold well, but not so well that it poses a threat to X-Men. The performance of the weekend’s other new major release, Blended, is trickier to predict. Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore are a popular and appealing couple, but Sandler’s box-office clout has diminished of late, and Barrymore has worked only intermittently within the past few years. Still, there’s reason to believe their latest pairing should do fine, that is, a solid $30 million opening. In other words, the Memorial Day Weekend box-office chart should break down as follows:

1. X-Men: Days of Future Past
2. Godzilla
3. Blended

Poor Spidey.

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