Memorial Day weekend means big things at the box office, and what better movie to flex its muscles for such a high-profile debut than Fox’s star-studded X-Men: Days of Future Past?
The seventh movie in the long-running franchise brings the original characters together with their “younger” selves from 2011′s X-Men: First Class. Though it’s the third comic book film to open this year, behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it could prove the biggest opening yet. But, as far as Memorial Day records go, it may only crack the top five. The biggest is 2007′s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which made an enormous $139.8 million. X-Men: The Last Stand is the third biggest Memorial Day weekend opening of all time with $122.8 million, but tracking indicates that this latest installment won’t quite reach those heights.
Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore’s comedy Blended also opens wide this weekend, providing some alternative programming to the superhero/monster fare and the comfort of a reliable comedic pairing.
Here’s how things might play out:
1. X-Men: Days of Future Past — $105 million
Debuting in upwards of 3,992 locations, Fox’s $200 million tent pole finds its iconic X-Men characters teaming up with their younger selves to protect mutant and human existence. Besides showcasing a veritable army of high-profile talent, including James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman, and Jennifer Lawrence, the film tackles one of the series most popular storylines and seems to have managed to win over critics as well. It’s currently boasting a phenomenal 91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. EW’s Chris Nashawaty gave it a B+ and says: “Singer’s return in the pretzel-logic pop fantasia X-Men: Days of Future Past is so triumphant because of how effortless he makes connecting the dots seem. It’s an epic that couldn’t be more Byzantine on paper but scans with ease on-screen.” It’s likely to open in the $100 million range across the four-day weekend, including late Thursday night showings. And, of course, it’s also tracking big internationally.
2. Godzilla — $50 million
After stomping into theaters with a much higher-than-expected $93 million, Godzilla will likely drop upwards of 55 percent, mostly because of the pull of those pesky mutants.
3. Blended — $30 million
Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler team up once more for Blended, a comedy about a mismatched couple who inadvertently end up on the same vacation with their kids from different marriages. Warner Bros. is releasing the $40 million pic in 3,555 locations. Sandler and Barrymore have a decent box office history thanks to the success of The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates. Audiences who’ve already seen Neighbors and aren’t that enthused for a third comic book movie this year could help the pic open to $30 million on the four-day, but Blended has been getting pretty terrible reviews (13 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) which could hurt its run in the long- term.
4. Neighbors — $15 million
Universal’s frat comedy is just on the cusp of cracking $100 million domestically. The $18 million pic is poised for another hefty fall in its third weekend in theaters. Blended might draw audiences away this weekend, but Universal also debuts its A Million Ways to Die in the West next weekend, which may cannibalize Neighbors’ fourth weekend earnings.
5. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — $12 million
Don’t be surprised if Spidey falls another 50 percent across Memorial Day weekend. Sony’s nimble webslinger has made over $176 million domestically and $637 worldwide after just 20 days in theaters. The first film in the rebooted franchise grossed $752 million worldwide after 104 days in theaters.
In the specialty box office world, Jon Favreau’s Chef expands to 498 locations, while The Weinstein Company’s The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, bumps its theater count up to 600. IFC is releasing its dark Sundance thriller Cold in July in six theaters. That stars Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, and Don Johnson. And, finally, Roadside Attractions debuts its dramedy Words and Pictures, starring Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen, in ten locations.
Check back at EW.com this weekend for estimates and analysis.