Fox’s “X-Men: Apocalypse” has the upper hand in the Memorial Day weekend with early forecasts showing an $80 million-plus launch at 4,100 locations at the U.S. box office.
Recent estimates indicate that Disney’s sequel “Alice Through the Looking Glass” will open in the $60 million range.
With the two openers generating as much as $150 million combined, the four-day period looks to be much more robust than last year when George Clooney’s “Tomorrowland” under-performed with $42.7 million but still was the top grosser. Last year’s holiday frame was only the 12th-highest on record with $194.9 million, off 38% from the top Memorial Day weekend in 2013, when “Fast & Furious 6” opened.
“X-Men: Apocalypse,” the fourth X-Men movie directed by Bryan Singer, has an impressive legacy to follow during the Memorial Day holiday period. His “X-Men: Days of Future Past” generated $110.6 million on its opening in 2014, or nearly half the $231.4 million total box office for the weekend; in 2006, Brett Ratner’s “X-Men: The Last Stand” opened with $122.9 million on its way to a $234.4 million total — both bests for the durable franchise.
Prospects for “X-Men: Apocalypse” have been bolstered by last weekend’s solid international launch of $101.6 million in 76 markets on 20,796 screens. Oscar Isaac is the titular villain with Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender returning.
“Alice Through the Looking Glass” should be a solid performer at 3,750 sites for Disney, even without a first-place finish. The studio has dominated 2016 moviegoing with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “The Jungle Book” and “Zootopia” so far.
The original “Alice in Wonderland” opened in 2010 to $116.1 million and went on to gross $334 million domestically and over $1 billion worldwide. The sequel, which carries a $170 million price tag, is directed by “Flight of the Conchords” creator James Bobin with Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska and Helena Bonham Carter starring.
Sony’s second weekend of “The Angry Birds” and Disney-Marvel’s fourth frame of “Captain America: Civil War” will be battling for third with $20 million-plus each.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore, said Memorial Day weekend carries a lot of weight in terms of the perception of the health of the industry — even though the period marks only the fourth week of the 18-week season.
“‘X-Men’ and ‘Alice’ will bring huge numbers of fans to the multiplex and in concert with the plethora of films already playing in this crowded marketplace, propel the overall numbers to more than respectable heights,” he said.
“Additionally, the comps to last year’s same holiday weekend should prove favorable since the 2015 Memorial Day weekend was by no means a record breaker despite solid holdovers (including “Age of Ultron,” “Pitch Perfect 2” & “Mad Max: Fury Road”) and a high profile debut film (“Tomorrowland”) in the mix.”