"X-Men: Days of Future Past" got off to a sizzling start Thursday night on what's expected to be a huge Memorial Day weekend at the box office for Fox's Marvel mutant sequel.
"Days of Future Past" brought in $8.1 million from roughly 2,900 theaters -- a $2,793 average -- in shows that began at 10 p.m., the studio said. That's under the $10.2 million that "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and the $8.7 million that "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" launched with, but both of those started with 8 p.m. screenings. It's the best Thursday night showing for any film in the "X-Men" franchise and more than double the $4 million that "The Wolverine" managed last summer.
The Marvel Comics-based movie will be in 3,996 theaters in the U.S. and Canada and nearly every major foreign market by Friday. "Days of Future Past" is expected to dominate the holiday weekend, with a four-day domestic total that analysts have projected will top $100 million.
"Days of Future Past" is directed by Bryan Singer. Its time travel plot, from Simon Kinberg, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, merges the star-studded cast of the original "X-Men" trilogy with the 2011 reboot "X-Men: First Class." Jennifer Lawrence and Hugh Jackman top an ensemble that includes James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Peter Dinklage.
The highest-opening film in the seven-film, $2.3 billion franchise is "X-Men: The Last Stand." Directed by Brett Ratner, it debuted over Memorial Day weekend in 2006 and brought in $102 million over three days and $122.8 million over four. It went on to become the highest-grossing film in the series with $459 million worldwide.
The critics have been impressed with "Days of Future Past," and it's at 93 percent "fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes.
The weekend's other wide opener is the Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore romantic comedy "Blended." Warner Bros. will have it in roughly 3,555 locations and the studio is hoping it can hit $30 million over the four days.
The chief competition for "Days of Future Past" will be the reigning No. 1 movie "Godzilla," which debuted to a stunning $93 million for Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. last weekend.