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X-Men: First Class led the domestic box office in its opening weekend, taking in $56 million and meeting Fox’s goal of matching the opening of the first film in the franchise, if falling short of more optimistic projections. The Matthew Vaughn-directed prequel grossed another $64 million overseas, for a worldwide haul of $120 million.
“I think it is incredibly challenging to relaunch a franchise,” Chris Aronson, Fox’s senior vice president of domestic distribution, tells The Hollywood Reporter. “There are preconceived ideas, as well as a comfort factor with continuity. We have met and conquered those challenges.” Or, for a less biased assessment, we can look to Company Town, which characterizes the opening as “a pretty good but not great start.”
By way of comparison, 2003’s X2: X-Men United and 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine each debuted with about $85 million, while X-Men: The Last Stand drew $102 million in the domestic box office during its first weekend. But the studio kept its estimates significantly lower, using Christopher Nolan’s 2005 franchise reboot Batman Begins as a goalpost. That film opened domestically to $48.7 million on its way to $205.3 million.
However, as the trade paper notes, Batman Begins “had great legs.” The $140-million First Class, meanwhile, faces serious competition this weekend with the debut of J.J. Abrams’ sci-fi thriller Super 8, followed by Warner Bros.’ Green Lantern.