Thursday, June 2, 2011

Weekend Box Office: XMEN FIRST CLASS Most Likely to Graduate Top of the Box Office

"Welcome to Mutant High....."

It has been 11 years since X-MEN unleashed its muscle on the silver screen and fans of the massive series have been taken on a bumpy ride as its sequels have either hit the mark or mutated into a jumbled mess. The first X-MEN debuted with a stellar 157.3 million (splendid storytelling in terms of introduction, a fun, high profile cast, and dazzling special effects) which lead to the equally impressive X-MEN UNITED (214.9 million). Then came, the cluttered X-MEN : THE LAST STAND (234.4 million)and the mediocre WOLVERINE, which came shy of a $180 million. Although those tallies sound impressive, THE LAST STAND cost $210 million to produce and domestically was a disappointment. Although it made $459 million worldwide, it barely made back its production and advertising costs. (A film has to double but often triple (include advertising) its production cost to be considered a financial success to the studio. Of course, box office isn't everything. Critically and commercially, the first two films were adored but the latter two had too much going on or in the case of WOLVERINE, alienated its fan-base.

So naturally, the only way to revive the franchise was to give the series a reboot. Reboots generally tend to work as Batman, Star Trek, and in terms of financially, Friday the 13th have demonstrated. Reboots give a studio a new, fresh way to tell a familiar story with beloved characters that connects with audiences as well as hopefully "cashes in" with new fans. Reboots differ from remakes as often, with the exception of Friday the 13th, they tend to be prequels, showing the origins of our cherished characters and breathe new life into a franchise. I have to admit, the first three X-MEN (even THE LAST STAND had its moments) tickled my "Fanboy" bones but Wolverine made me want to throw all my old Marvel comics at Hugh Jackman. I just felt Wolverine left little to be desired as far as a summer blockbusters go and I hated the way they depicted DeadPool, Ryan Reynolds .

That being said, 20th Century Fox's X-MEN FIRST CLASS (directed by Matthew Vaughn who brought us the masterful KICKASS and underrated yet highly recommended STARDUST)looks to be a step in the right direction. FIRST CLASS is set in 1960s and tells the beginnings of Professor Xavier (played by Jemes McAvoy WANTED) and Magneto (played by Hollywood's new "IT" man Michael Fassbender, most notably seen in Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Bastards). Look for Louisville's own Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone) as a young Mystique and Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, who has the ability to absorb energy. Many of the mutants, audiences will not be able to recognize (with the exception of Beast)and this could be both a pro and con for the film. Most people attribute X-Men with Wolverine (although Hugh Jackman is rumored to make a cameo)but on the other hand, fresh blood and new mutants might be just the ticket fans are craving for. Only the box office will tell!

Reviews have been fantastic (like IRON MAN stellar), the trailers look amazing, and I have to say I am X-Cited to see this! Predictions for the film range from the 50's to 80 million. I predict a 50 to 56 million (probably 54 million) start for the prequel (naturally, it will knock the Hangover 2 from the top spot) and word of mouth will continue to generate buzz. After all, WOLVERINE and THE LAST STAND disappointed and FIRST CLASS has to prove it has what it takes to make the grade. I will keep you posted on the final tally over the weekend.

Watch the trailer below and stay tuned for my review of Hangover 2 and X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

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