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"X-Men: Days of Future Past," the latest film in the Marvel Comics series about mutants with super powers, opened with U.S. and Canadian weekend sales of $90.7 million for 21st Century Fox, easily surpassing its 2011 predecessor.
"X-Men" pushed aside "Godzilla," a new take on the 1950s monster film, to claim the No. 1 spot in the extended U.S. Memorial Day weekend, Rentrak Corp. said in an e-mailed statement Sunday. "Godzilla" garnered $31.4 million for Legendary Entertainment LLC and its partner and distributorWarner Bros., placing second. "Blended," a Warner Bros. romantic comedy, opened third with $14.2 million.
Studios often look to sequels to outdraw the previous films. "X-Men: Days of Future Past," starringHugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, is the second of a new trilogy that Fox is producing. Six previous pictures have collected $2.4 billion globally for the studio since 2000. "X-Men: First Class," which kicked off the new series in 2011, took in $55.1 million in its debut.
"This was a solid Memorial Day weekend led by a terrific performance from 'X-Men,'" said Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst at Rentrak.
Results were in line with analysts' predictions, said Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.
"The global total is going to be around $262 million after just one weekend," Mr. Contrino said. "That's incredibly impressive."
Fox said in a statement the film had the highest-grossing opening weekend globally of the "X-Men" franchise.
The extended U.S. Memorial Day weekend routinely ranks among the biggest of the year for Hollywood. "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," part of the Walt Disney Co. adventure series, collected a record for the long weekend with $139.8 million in 2007, according to Rentrak.
Historically, the holiday marked the beginning of the summer blockbuster season until Hollywood recently started releasing its big-budget pictures earlier, spreading out the schedule so films don't cannibalize each other. Walt Disney Co. followed that strategy with "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," which took in $95 million in its April opening for the biggest debut this year to date.
Fox scheduled "X-Men" a few weeks before soccer's World Cup is due to start, to ensure that its young male audience isn't preoccupied on its release.
The movie had an estimated production budget of $200 million, according to Box Office Mojo, and has received a favorable reception, with a positive rating of 90% from Rottentomatoes.com, a reviews aggregator.
"Godzilla," which opened at No. 1 in its debut a week ago, has collected $148.8 million domestically as of today, according to Rentrak. Featuring "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston, the film beat forecasts on its debut and is likely to be made into a sequel, providing recurring revenue for Legendary Entertainment.
The movie was projected to collect $49 million over the holiday weekend.
"Blended," with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, was the only other new film opening in wide release. The stars play a couple who, after their blind date goes badly, end up stuck together at a family resort with their kids.
The movie offered an alternative for couples who weren't looking for an action film. Reviews were mostly negative, with a positive rating of just 15% on Rottentomatoes.com. The film had been projected to have $25 million in receipts over the long weekend.
Weekend revenue for the top 10 films fell 29 percent to $175.6 million from a year earlier, Rentrak data showed. Domestic box-office sales year to date are up 4 percent from a year earlier to $3.96 billion.
Comparisons to the record-breaking holiday period a year ago are tough, Rentrak's Dergarabedian said. The 2013 Memorial Day weekend featured the quadruple threat of "Fast & Furious 6," "Hangover 3," "Star Trek" and "Epic."
~ Bloomberg News ~