“X-Men: Days of Future Past” is expected to dominate the box office over the Memorial Day weekend, with analysts projecting that Fox’s 3D superhero mutant mashup will open to more than $100 million over the four days.
If it does, it will cap a red-hot run for movies based on Marvel Comics characters, which will have topped the box office five times in the past eight weeks. Disney’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” got the party started in April, finishing No. 1 three weeks in a row, and Sony’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” debuted in the top spot earlier this month. Those two films have generated $1.3 billion globally already, and with this weekend’s “X-Men” and Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” coming in August, there is more on the way.
That’s a lot of superheroes, but summer is the season for that, and all signs suggest “X-Men” is riding a wave of Marvel momentum, rather than battling spandex fatigue. The film, which will open Friday in more than 3,900 theaters in the U.S. and most major foreign markets this weekend, is the seventh in the series that has grossed more than $2.3 billion at the global box office for Fox.
The weekend’s other wide opener is the PG-13 rated romantic comedy “Blended,” starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. It’s counter-programming to “The X-Men,” and distributor Warner Brothers believes it will tap its target audience of families and couples and come in at around $30 million over the long weekend. The primary competition for “X-Men” will be “Godzilla,” the Legendary Pictures-Warner Bros. monster movie remake that stomped into the top spot last weekend with a stunning $93 million debut.
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The time-travel plot of the Bryan Singer-directed “Days of Future Past,” by Simon Kinberg (“Sherlock Holmes”), Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, has allowed the filmmakers to merge the star-studded cast of the original “X-Men” trilogy with the 2011 reboot “X-Men: First Class.” Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult and Ian McKellan all get their mutant on, while Peter Dinklage of TV’s “Game of Thrones” plays scientist Bolivar Trask.
The tracking has been strong and steady, early reviews have been great with a 93 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and the social media signs are strong. Three days from its debut, “Days of Future Past” had more than 11 million Facebook “likes,” more than “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Any concerns that Singer’s legal problems would hurt the film have largely evaporated.
The last two “X-Men” movies — 2011’s “First Class” and last year’s “The Wolverine” — were the two lowest-grossing in the series. But the all-star cast of alums and positive buzz surrounding this film should mobilize the Marvel masses and the peaking star power of Jackman and Lawrence should help “Days of Future Past” with the mainstream and abroad, where the the film is tracking very strongly. It could very well wind up as the biggest in the franchise’s history, ahead of the $234 million domestic and $459 million worldwide that “X-Men: The Last Stand” put up in 2006.
Lauren Shuler Donner and Hutch Parker produced the $200 million “Days of Future Past,” along with Kinberg and Singer, who directed the first two “X-Men” movies.
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“Blended” is the third collaboration collaboration between Sandler and Barrymore. Their previous two — 1998’s “The Wedding Singer” and 2004’s “50 First Dates” — were both hits, but also came more than a decade ago.
Sandler’s last outing was “Grown Ups 2,” a PG-13-rated comedy that took in nearly $250 million worldwide for Sony last summer, after opening to $41 million in July. “Blended” isn’t likely to hit those heights, but with a $45 million production budget, it needn’t to be successful for Warner Bros. and Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions.
“Blended” is directed by Frank Coraci, who also directed “The Wedding Singer.” It co-stars Terry Crews, Wendi McClendon-Covey, Kevin Nealon and Bella Thorne co-star in the tale of a couple who find themselves thrown together at a family resort after a bad blind date.
The best thing going for the comedy, which hasn’t been screened for critics, could be the marketplace, which is short on movies targeting families and women. The studio is hoping that Barrymore’s presence will help attract mature female audiences over the next few weeks. It will be in roughly 3,500 theaters.
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Open Road Films is expanding its Jon Favreau food truck comedy “Chef” into a widest-yet 498 theaters it its third weekend. Its domestic total is $1.1 million after it opened in six theaters two weeks ago and expanded into 72 last weekend. Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson and Oliver Platt co-star in the film, written and directed by Favreau.