“X-Men: Apocalypse” easily topped the Memorial Day weekend box office, racking up a commanding $80 million over the four-day period in an otherwise forgettable holiday for the movie business.
Its victory came at the expense of “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” which is shaping up to be one of the year’s biggest bombs. The follow-up to 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland” eked out $34.2 million over the four-day holiday, a far cry from the $116.1 million debut of the first film, and a disastrous start for a pricey movie.
Final numbers are still being tallied, but even though this year’s Memorial Day topped last year’s holiday, it trails the record of $314.2 million established in 2013. That weekend saw a clash between “Fast & Furious 6” and “The Hangover III,” and while this edition also fielded a high-profile matchup between “X-Men” and “Alice in Wonderland” sequels, overall ticket sales were somewhat disappointing. ComScore estimates that final grosses will end up at just over $200 million.
Although the latest “X-Men” was the weekend’s biggest winner, its opening paled in comparison to the $110.6 million debut of its predecessor, “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” The latest sequel in the long-running franchise is set in the ’80s and finds the team of mutant heroes battling an all-powerful villain from the ancient world (Oscar Isaac). Fox backed the $178 million production, releasing it across 4,150 theaters in North America.
Critics didn’t cotton to the film, saddling it with a lackluster 48% “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences were more forgiving, handing the picture an A-minus CinemaScore. There won’t be another comic-book movie in theaters until “Suicide Squad” hits in August, a spandex set reprieve that Fox hopes to take advantage of in the coming weeks.
“When you look at the competitive landscape and the audience score, we expect the film to last a little longer than most comic-book movies do,” said Chris Aronson, Fox’s domestic distribution chief.
Disney’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass” will have to look abroad for help if it wants to salvage its $170 million production budget and the tens of millions it spent marketing and promoting the fantasy adventure.
Its failure is more bad news for star Johnny Depp. The actor, formerly one of Hollywood’s biggest draws, has suffered a string of flops such as “Black Mass,” “Transcendence” and “The Lone Ranger.” He is also embroiled in a divorce from Amber Heard. The actress has accused Depp of physically abusing her and filed for a restraining order. Photos of Heard’s bruised face appeared in various media outlets, inspiring a wave of bad publicity for the film.
Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis noted that “Alice Through the Looking Glass” is performing better overseas, where it made $65 million over the weekend, with a third of that coming from China.
“We’re going to push as hard as we can to get as much box office as we can,” said Hollis, who acknowledged that the results were “disappointing.”
The two new releases were split in terms of their demographic appeal. “X-Men: Apocalypse” attracted an audience that was 62% male, while 57% of the opening crowd for “Alice Through the Looking Glass” was female.
Premium formats helped lift “Apocalypse’s” results, with premium large format locations delivering $7.8 million of its earnings and Imax adding $3.6 million to its gross. RealD equipped 3D theaters grossed approximately $23.5 million for the four-day holiday weekend.
Last weekend’s champ, Sony’s “The Angry Birds Movie,” took third place, with $24.6 million over the four-day span, bringing its domestic total to $72.2 million.
Disney and Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” officially became the year’s highest-grossing domestic release, adding $19.7 million to its massive $377.2 million stateside gross. That’s enough to knock “Deadpool” and its $362.8 million tally from its perch atop the year’s biggest stateside earners.
Universal’s “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” rounded out the top five, earning $11.2 million to bring its domestic gross to $40.4 million.