X-Men: First Class squeaked by with a passable estimated $21 million on approximately 6,900 screens at 3,641 locations, but it's looking more like the fanboy fantasia it sounded like when first announced than something that will advance the franchise. Sure, the first X-Men movie opened to nearly $21 million, but $21 million in 2011 is not the same as $21 million in 2000. X-Men's start was the equivalent of over $30 million adjusted for ticket price inflation. More telling, though, is that First Class was a sizable step down from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which made $34.4 million on its opening day, and it was even less than The Incredible Hulk's $21.5 million.
Included in X-Men: First Class's gross was its $3.37 million midnight launch. That was encouraging because it was more than Thor's $3.25 million midnight, but First Class turned out to be more front-loaded. Thor's Friday opening ended up at $25.5 million (en route to a $65.7 million weekend). The debut of another fanboy fantasia, Watchmen, could be a better comparison to First Class: Both movies had exceptionally high results in Box Office Mojo's "when will you see it" polling that didn't equal correspondingly high grosses.
X-Men: First Class's opening reiterates the danger of rebooting a still prominent franchise without a clean break and the passage of a lot of time (Wolverine was just two years ago). While wanting to restart things after the quality issues of Wolverine and X-Men: The Last Stand was understandable, First Class was just a Wolverine-less prequel. First Class's marketing, which sent mixed messages by including references to the previous movies, didn't go into the movie's actual story. It merely focused on seeing what the X-Men were like when they were young and the brewing disagreement between Professor X and Magneto, which was already covered in the previous movies. That First Class still made $21 million on its first day could be seen as a sign of the franchise's popularity.
Trajectory: If First Class is like similar titles, its Friday gross points to a weekend close to $54 million.
The Hangover Part II tumbled 65 percent Friday-to-Friday to an estimated $10.5 million. The percentage drop was almost as bad as Sex and the City 2's at the same point, and, of course, was much steeper than the first Hangover's 38 percent fall. Since Wednesday, Hangover Part II has been making less or about the same amount as its predecessor, though its cumulative gross was nearly twice as much at $164.9 million in nine days, ranking as the 26th highest-grossing nine-day opening of all time (and second to The Matrix Reloaded among R-rated movies).
Kung Fu Panda 2 didn't take the same beating as Hangover Part II, but it was still battered in its second Friday. Retreating 52 percent, the animated sequel generated an estimated $6.3 million, increasing its sum to $82.4 million in nine days. The percentage drop was more extreme than Madagascar (42 percent) and any Shrek movie at the same post-Memorial Day point. The first Kung Fu Panda was down nearly 51 percent in its second Friday (which was a week later on the calendar), though it pulled in $10 million and had a much higher total.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides continued its descent: off 53 percent, the supernatural swashbuckler grabbed an estimated $5.1 million for a $177.3 million tally in 15 days. Bridesmaids, on the other hand, delivered another stellar hold. The comedy eased 23 percent to an estimated $3.6 million, increasing its sum to $98.7 million in 22 days. It will cross the $100 million mark on Saturday, and its Universal Pictures stable mate, Fast Five, will pass the $200 million line on Saturday as well.