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“First Class” First at Box Office

X-Men: First Class took a licking but kept on ticking this weekend. The prequel of sorts made an estimated $56 million domestically on a $160 million budget. The ensemble cast of young stars and respected European actors salvaged the franchise reputation earlier damaged by the "Wolverine" spinoff film. This entry scored 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, but like the reception to Thor, this was not enough to bolster the box-office sales. “First Class” actually underperformed estimates bowing lower than Thor, putting it in the league of The Incredible Hulk, another disappointing reboot.

The surprising lack of success from the restarted franchise is likely due to poor early buzz. First looks at the characters disappointed most given the cheap appearance of the costumes. Worse, the first round of posters appeared to have been rushed and poorly conceived. Characters Magneto and Xavier had their heads spliced into their crotch area. This became a quick joke on the message boards and those one sheets were yanked (and likely burned). Besides that, the "X-Men" origins are widely known so “First Class” gave off a been-there-done-that feel. The new villain, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) was not even featured in trailers to add new flavor.

Although the film was enjoyable to most reviewers (including me), that may not be enough to stave off a rapid descent on the charts next week when Super 8 debuts to its own praise. In the meantime, The Hangover Part II took a tumble to $32.4 million in its second weekend. That puts it shy of the $200 million mark, quite a feat for an R-rated feature. Kung Fu Panda 2 crossed $100 million, a feat it shared with Bridesmaids, the sleeper hit of the summer. Pirates of the Caribbean, in it's third weekend, continues to show wear and tear in the United States and generating $537 million overseas.

The Top Ten

1.  X-Men: First Class - $56.0M (weekend)…$56.0M (gross)

2.  The Hangover Part II - $32.4M…$186.8M
3.  Kung Fu Panda 2 - $24.3M…$100.4M
4.  Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - $18.0M…$190.2M
5.  Bridesmaids - $12.1M…$107.2M
6.  Thor - $4.2M…$169.0M
7.  Fast Five - $3.2M …$202.0M
8.  Midnight in Paris - $2.9M…$6.9M
9.  Jumping the Broom - $0.8M…$35.9M
10. Something Borrowed - $0.8M …$36.6M

As for independent fare, Tree of Life continues to surprise us despite not making the charts yet. It's $31,000 per screen average was the highest, thanks to its limited release to 20 screens and controversial buzz. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris remained on the charts at number eight with an additional $2.9 million. It may be bumped to tenth place when our next two movies debut. Out next week is a slapstick kid’s film and a supernatural thriller.

super 8

Relativity presents Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer at 2,000 locations next Friday. The comedy of errors stars Heather Graham — basically a non-starlet — and two child actors in the leading roles. I simply assume, based on the title, this movie is about kids trying to have a stellar summer rather than the usual bummer. Movies like this do not belong in summer slots. This looks like a flick that could have easily debuted on Nickelodeon rather than on the big screen. A female lead, young or old, never helps ticket sales. Additionally, children’s movies have not been doing well since last winter. Nevertheless, it presents alternative programming to Super 8.

Paramount has chosen to distribute JJ Abrams' Super 8 in 3,200 theaters including IMAX. Abrams' last journey into space was his 2009 reboot of Star Trek. That was critically lauded and made $385 million worldwide. The Super 8 marketing campaign is releasing limited content. All we know is that an alien, or something big, escapes from a locomotive and scares all the dogs away in a small town. In the meantime, some smarter-than-average kids are making a monster movie with their vintage camera and are caught in the middle of the whole affair. Some are worried that Abrams will conceal the monster, as he did with his production Cloverfield. But most, not knowing what to expect, will venture to their local cinema to find out what the hype is about. Super 8 will win the weekend with a $40-$50 million debut.

What is your prediction? Post in the comment section below and be sure to check out Box Office Wizard every Friday to put your prediction to the test.


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