The latest X-Men adventure easily topped the weekend, earning an estimated $65 million. It is on pace to pull in over $76 million over the four-day spell. That’s a solid start, but a significant drop off from the $110.5 million that the previous mutant team-up, “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” racked up over the 2014 Memorial Day holiday.
Fox domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson said he was “exceptionally pleased” with the results, and predicted that the film’s A-minus CinemaScore would set it up for repeat business.
“It’s a challenging marketplace, to be sure, but the domestic opening coupled with the international rollout puts us in terrific shape,” he said.
Overseas, “X-Men: Apocalypse” has made $185.8 million, which will bring its global haul to more than $260 million after the weekend.
Things were much bleaker for “Alice Through the Looking Glass.” The follow-up to 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland,” which racked up more than $1 billion during its run, stumbled out of the gate, bombing with $28.1 million and a projected $35 million over the four-day period. That’s a disastrous start for a film with an $170 million production budget.
“It’s disappointing and it’s head scratching to a certain degree,” said Dave Hollis, Disney’s distribution chief.
He noted that the studio just passed $4 billion in record time, in part because it has decided to make fewer, but bigger-budgeted films. In the case of “Zootopia” or “Captain America: Civil War” that paid off with two of the highest-grossing hits of the year.
“We’re always striving for higher-quality, branded films,” said Hollis. “We make these big bets and sometimes they really pay off. We took one here, but it did not do the kind of business we were hoping. You have to take everything in stride.”
The fantasy adventure will try to stanch the bleeding overseas, where “Alice Through the Looking Glass” grossed an estimated $65 million from such major territories as Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom, Australia and Brazil. The film has opened in 72% of the international market, with France (June 1), Japan (July 1) and South Korea (Sept. 8) still on deck.
“Alice’s” opening is bad news for Johnny Depp, whose star has waned in recent years, its luster diminished by flops such as “Mortdecai” and “Transcendence.” The actor was in the headlines over the weekend after his wife Amber Heard filed for divorce, alleging abuse, creating public relations headaches for Disney.
Heading into the holiday, some analysts expected “X-Men: Apocalypse” to debut to between $80 million and $100 million, and many box office sages projected an “Alice” launch in the $55 million range. The competition may have taken a chunk out of both film’s ticket sales, although the movies were pitched at different audiences. “X-Men” was intended to draw men, while “Alice” was designed for female moviegoers.
Some analysts believe that the “Alice in Wonderland” sequel couldn’t compete in the crowded summer season. The first film debuted in the spring, when there were fewer major studio releases vying for attention.
“‘X-Men’ destroyed ‘Alice,’ no question,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “That’s what happens when a spring fling attempts to go full-tilt summer blockbuster. We’ve seen this happen in the past and it usually doesn’t work out.”
Sony’s “The Angry Birds Movie” took third place in its second weekend of release, earning $18.7 million, to bring its domestic haul to roughly $66.3 million. In fourth place, “Captain America: Civil War” added $15.1 million to its total. The superhero film has earned $377 million domestically, propelling it past “Deadpool” to become the year’s highest-grossing stateside release. “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” rounded out the top five, nabbing $9.1 million to push its domestic gross to $40.4 million after two weeks in theaters.
This won’t be a Memorial Day weekend for the ages. ComScore is projecting that the overall box office will hit $204 million for the four-day period, an improvement over last year’s $194.8 million, but a far cry from a record. In fact, the results won’t even crack the top ten Memorial Day weekends.
“This Memorial Day didn’t blow the doors off,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore. “Memorial weekends are supposed to be this barometer for the health of the industry at this point. It’s sort of a report card.”