Reviews for “X-Men: Apocalypse” have been decidedly mixed. They trail those for the two previous “X-Men” films, “Days of Future Past” and “First Class,” and have given the new movie a score of just 48 percent on critic aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
But these reviews will in no way impact opening weekend numbers for “Apocalypse,” multiple box office experts told TheWrap.
Tracking to earn between $83 million and $90 million, “Apocalypse” would boast a similar opening as the one for “Days of Future Past” ($90.8 million), which received a stellar score of 91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Leverage is the key word,” comScore senior analyst Paul Dergarabedian told TheWrap. “‘Apocalypse,’ while it may not be getting the reviews of the previous ‘X-Men’ films, still carries a lot of weight in terms of the brand and the power of that brand to bring people into theaters.”
Indeed, “X-Men” movies have had a strong brand presence on the big screen for the past 16 years, and the characters have been around in the pages of comic books since they first appeared in “The X-Men No. 1,” which was published in 1963.
This strong brand alone will draw people to theaters, regardless of the film’s reviews, experts say, citing similar releases.
“‘Batman v Superman’ was a prime example that got to $900 million, not based on great reviews but the brand,” added Dergarabedian. “Building on that brand name, the concept, is key. Really, what made ‘Captain America: Civil War’ a billion-dollar movie is the great reviews. You can have a highly successful movie if you have the brand currency to back it up, and ‘X-Men’ certainly has that.”
“Batman v Superman” (27 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) received terrible reviews in the weeks leading up to its opening, but the film starring Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill still grossed more than $871 million worldwide.
Similarly, 2009’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” (19 percent) grossed $836.3 million globally, and 2014’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction” (18 percent) earned $1.1 billion. “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” (32 percent) surpassed the $1 billion mark, as well.
The trend should hold for “X-Men: Apocalypse.”
“The majority of fans will still want to come out on opening weekend to see the next chapter for this series,” said Box Office Guru editor Gitesh Pandya. “The latest film does bring something new to the table, and that is sparking interest in what has been a red-hot year for super hero movies.”
So far, that seems to be true. “X-Men: Apocalypse” — which stars Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner and Oscar Isaac — had an impressive start at the box office on Thursday. It grossed $8.2 million, an improvement on the $8.1 million Thursday-preview gross of “Days of Future Past.”
Of course, stellar reviews are no hindrance to a movie’s bottom line: Often, critical props help propel movies into even bigger box office returns.
“‘Deadpool’ definitely benefited from great reviews. ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ ‘Jungle Book,’ ‘Zootopia’ — a lot of movies have seen their box office fortunes rise because of that positive, emotional reaction to movies that get not only critics but also audiences on board,” said Dergarabedian.