X-Men: Days Of Future Past, the seventh film in the franchise, grossed $8.1M in 2,900 theaters last night, a fantastic start and catapulting it forward into the holiday weekend for an expected gross of well over $100M+ for the 4-days as Sunday should bring in stronger numbers going into this Memorial Day holiday. I was thinking $114M but some other trackers think it could reach $120M when the dust clears on Monday morning, driven by a holiday weekend, strong reviews, a killer cast and an ending tease for X-Men Apocalypse. Ticket seller Fandango surveyed more than 1,000 moviegoers (a small sampling, but interesting nonetheless) and found that 82% are looking forward to seeing X-Men Apocalypse so the fans get their first hint of it on this film. Fandango also found that 76%of those going to this film are motivated by Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence (no surprise there) starring in this one, and 65% are planning to see it with a group of friends. All good. The studio has a lot to celebrate on their on-the-lot X-Men day today.
This is the third big franchise to open in four weeks time following that of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Godzilla. The per screen for last night’s Thursday opening were $2,793. The 2oth Century Fox film also simultaneously started its overseas theatrical bow in 100 countries, including China, which is having an incredible 2014. The screenings for X-Men domestically began at 10 PM, and X-Men — while not in IMAX theaters — still is on 352 large-format screens. Although not having the franchise play on IMAX usually shaves a bit off the top, last weekend those PLF formats accounted for $8.4M of Godzilla‘s total gross, led by Cineplex Canada with 53 screens grossing roughly 23.7% of the format gross. Cinemark also had 96 runs which took in 26% of that business. Total for PLF’s Godzilla take was $96%.
X-Men‘s strong Thursday start puts it amid the top recent earners that began business that day (see chart below).
Meanwhile, X-Men also has built huge momentum across the social media universe over the past 30 days. Star Hugh Jackman (who portrays the ever-popular Wolverine) is the social superhero with 15M Facebook fans and 4M Twitter followers who are apparently engaging heavily with movie still posts and talk show mentions. Both Ian McKellen’s 1M Twitter and Patrick Stewart’s 1.2M FB fans are also engaged, while Jennifer Lawrence and Halle Berry’s domestic and international superfans channels are also spreading the word. Yes, it is a star-packed franchise which cannot be overlooked. Others in the film include James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Anna Paquin, and Chinese (and a favorite in that country) actress Fan Bingbing.
Superfans and movie channels continue to post X-Men YouTube clips, according to RelishMix CEO Marc Karzen, “at super-human rates and logs an earned/owned ratio of 15 to 1 which shows us high intent (for ticket buyers) to line up this weekend.”
The franchise took over London’s West End last night in the X-crossing of Oxford Square, beaming 3D stills into the center of the square, lighting up during the 18-second crossing times. The public installation is in a heavy shopping area and one where about 500,000 people pass through daily, making it one of the busiest interchanges in all of Europe.