How the X-Men Have Changed the Game

How the X-Men Have Changed the Game

If I made this kinda’ money in four days, I’d be “mutant and proud” too.

For any X-men fan, Days of Future Past is a big freakin’ deal. So when Hollywood finally saw that comic book movies could be a box office success, X-Men as a movie franchise was born. I can only compare it to what Tolkien fans I’m sure felt when they learned that Lord of the Rings would be adapted for a silver screen release. They immediately started making their check list of all the iconic passages they wanted to see translated to celluloid.  Hobbiton, the Battle of Helms Deep, the One Ring, all of these are ingrained in readers minds in a very specific way. Likewise, there are a select handful of story-lines from X-Men’s vast comic history which fans remember fondly.

Days of Future Past is certainly one that ranks right up there as the cream of the crop.

Over the Memorial Day holiday, we saw the release of the much anticipated flick (which looked to mesh the casts of First Class and the originals in one big X-Soup). While I won’t get into spoilers about the plot here (mainly because I’ve not seen it yet, so STFU down there comments section) I did find one revelation a bit surprising. Raking in $111 million domestically was enough to put ‘ Days in the top five biggest Memorial Day openings ever; many had projected a slightly larger gross for such a high profile film. I’ve heard some journalist’s speculating as to the cause, ranging from superhero-burn out to increased ticket prices (as a result of the 3D gimmicks many theaters currently run).

This actually got me wondering how the current outing stacks up to that of its counterparts from the last decade or so (not counting the spin-offs). So let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of the series to see how they compared to this release.

X-Men (2000) | Opening Weekend: $54 Million

When I say this is the grand-daddy of them all, I mean it. This isn’t just the film that got the theatrical X-Men series rolling. It literally created an entire genre. While the ’89 Keaton/Burton Batman movie is what I consider the first real comic book film (not counting Superman, which was an animal all its own) X-Men from 2000 marked the first steps towards building the Marvel dynasty that the likes of Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy are enjoying to this day. It might seem that ‘ Future Past doubled its predecessor’s earnings, but you naturally have to adjust for inflation (putting it at about even).

X2: X-Men United (2003) | Opening Weekend: $85 Million

By far, my favorite X-Men film to date (providing ‘ Days doesn’t blow me away). This film made considerably more its opening weekend, due to the same X-Factor (pun intended) that most sequels draw from. Breaking with conventional wisdom that sequels always bomb, now a days, trilogies often see their biggest financial bumps during the second and third outings (as I’ll highlight in the next entry). People saw that the first took itself seriously, and X2 rode that momentum to later become heralded as one of the best depictions of the X-Men on film. Here is where the comic and movie fronts melded perfectly.

How the X-Men Have Changed the Game

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006): | Opening Weekend: $102 Million

The Last Stand could not be a more apropos title for such a god-awful movie (very much the Yin to X2 ’s Yang). What started out as a truly epic concept (telling the tale of the mighty Phoenix), quickly delved into a mutated mess. Main characters die for no good reason, while others run around spouting the most cringe-worthy dialogue you’ve ever heard. Some point to Bryan Singer’s directorial replacement Brett Ratner as the culprit. I, on the other hand, am skeptical this convoluted P.O.S. could have worked under anyone’s tutelage. So why does it rank the highest on our list? Simple: a release’s ticket sales are predicated on the success of the one that came before it. People don’t know a movie sucks ‘till it’s too late. By then, the popcorn and soda are already bought.

On the surface, it would appear that Days of Future past is arguably the most successful of any X-Men film. However, as I touched on above; once you factor in the time frames at which the previous iterations were released (based on economy, budget, etc) it seems Day ’s will be a hit…but nothing unprecedented regarding revenue. Frankly, I don’t think you can lay this at the film makers feet that much anymore. With so many distractions available at our fingertips throughout our day to day lives (and the advent of advanced home theater systems) I’m not sure movie going is as appealing as it once was. Not to mention those $10.00 a seat prices on average.

So what does the future hold for the Age of Apocalypse run about to be given the Singer treatment? Will this trend continue and result in that film’s opening sales mirroring its name sake… Apocalypse ?

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