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Box Office: Can Logan Avoid the X-Men Franchise’s Notorious Second Weekend Curse?

After X-Men: Apocalypse‘s opening weekend I put together a piece detailing the X-Men franchise’s long history with big second weekend drops. Below is an updated version of that same article which now reflect Apocalypse‘s final numbers and Logan‘s opening weekend.

Logan is a global hit ($247m worldwide after just 3 days), but it was always going to be or at least it was after that first trailer came out and wowed the internet. Now, the real battle begins: how will Logan hold up against the Bataan Death March of blockbusters throughout the rest of March? After all, suddenly Kong: Skull Island seems to have plenty of buzz, and it opens this weekend. Does this mean Logan is now far more likely to follow the traditional X-Men movie pattern (big opening, steep drop)? Or does its R-Rating only really make it comparable to Deadpool in which case it could very well achieve improbable, but long-lasting box office life?

The answer: only time will tell.

Oh, boo! Don’t give me that patient “only time will tell” attitude. I want answers now so I can properly modulate by elation or outrage over Logan‘s success or failure. The oft-described “Best Superhero Movie of All Time” deserves nothing less than outrageous fortune.

Yes, but history shows it never seems to matter whether or not an X-Men movie is good or bad or somewhere in-between. They all post acceptable opening weekends, sometimes even record-breaking openings, but after that they disappear faster than Quicksilver saving lives while listening to a period-specific pop song:

X-Men (2000)

  • RottenTomatoes: 81%
  • Opening Weekend: $54.4m
  • Records: Fourth-biggest Friday opening ($20m), sixth-biggest debut of all time, single biggest debut for a non-sequel
  • Second-Weekend Drop: -56%
  • Final Domestic Gross: $157m
  • Position in the Year-End Top 20: #8
  • Weekend-to-final multiplier: 2.9x
  • Average for the Top 10 Movies That Year: 5.08x
  • Final Worldwide Gross: $296m

jeancyclops-my-love-hate-relationship-with-the-x-men-franchise-part-1X-Men was the movie which changed everything for superhero movies. It taught us to love spandex again after Batman & Robin broke our hearts. It exceeded all expectations, creatively and financially, but in some ways it predicted the big-opening-followed-by-big-drop pattern which would later become so typical of all Hollywood blockbusters. In 2000, anything above a -50% second weekend drop was seen as troubling, and a 2.9x multiplier – with “multiplier” being a word-of-mouth measurement you get by dividing a film’s total box office by its opening weekend – was positively pedestrian. The average multiplier among 2000’s other top 10 films was a more robust 5.08x, yet as of this writing 2.9x is still the X-Men franchise high.

X2 (2003)

  • RottenTomatoes: 86%
  • Opening Weekend: $85m
  • Records: Fourth-biggest Fri-Sun debut in history (behind Spider-Man and the first two Harry Potter films)
  • Second-Weekend Drop: -53%
  • Final Domestic Gross: $215m
  • Position in the Year-End Top 20: #6
  • Weekend-to-final multiplier: 2.5x
  • Average for the Top 10 Movies That Year: 4.34x
  • Final Worldwide Gross: $407m

x2_prison-breakX2 was a classic case of a bigger and better sequel with an opening weekend built off of the goodwill audiences felt toward its predecessor. Plus, by coming out in the first-week-of-May it also benefited from the Spider-Man halo effect, which set a new opening weekend record ($114m) exactly one year earlier. Audiences were suddenly conditioned to want to see a new superhero movie during the first-week-of-May every year from that point forward.  X2 certainly delivered. Its final box office totals bested X-Men in every way, but it still wasn’t in the same league as Spider-Man. Both Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 had bigger openings ($114m, $88m) and better multipliers (3.51x, 4.23x) respectively.

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

  • RottenTomatoes: 58%
  • Opening Weekend: $102m (Fri-Sun), $122m (Fri-Mon Memorial Day)
  • Records: Second-biggest single day ($45m Friday) behind Revenge of the Sith‘s $50m debut, fifth biggest four-day total of all time
  • Second-Weekend Drop: -66%
  • Final Domestic Gross: $234m
  • Position in the Year-End Top 20: #4
  • Weekend-to-final multiplier: 2.3x
  • Average for the Top 10 Movies That Year: 4.24x
  • Final Worldwide Gross: $459m

x-men-last-stand-headlineAfter the fanboys and girls had their fill in those first 4 days, The Last Stand took an epic box office plunge, to the point that it holds the dubious distinction of having the lowest domestic gross ($234m) among any film to open at or above $100m. The next closest is 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction ($245m).

Look at those opening day/weekend records, though! People were clearly geared up for this movie. They wanted to love it, and tell their friends to go see it. This could have been the time when the franchise entered into mega-blockbuster territory. Instead, it was such a creative disappointment that there is now an entire sequel which explicitly erases this entire film from continuity.  Perhaps all could have been forgiven if the next franchise installment hadn’t been…

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

  • RottenTomatoes: 38%
  • Opening Weekend: $85m
  • Records: None
  • Second-Weekend Drop: -69%
  • Final Domestic Gross: $180m
  • Position in the Year-End Top 20: #13
  • Weekend-to-final multiplier: 2.1x
  • Average for the Top 10 Movies That Year: 4.8x
  • Final Worldwide Gross: $373m

x_men_origins_wolverine05Sigh. Thus ended this particularly brutal one-two punch which the franchise has been apologizing for ever since. After the way The Last Stand belly flopped post-opening weekend, it’s somewhat impressive Origins: Wolverine‘s debut was only a 17% decline for the franchise. After that, Origins fell off faster than any X-Men film, before or since. As a result, Origins was the first X-Men movie to not crack the year-end top 10.

X-Men: First Class (2011)

  • RottenTomatoes: 87%
  • Opening Weekend: $55m
  • Records: None
  • Second-Weekend Drop: -56%
  • Final Domestic Gross: $146m
  • Position in the Year-End Top 20: #17
  • Weekend-to-final multiplier: 2.6x
  • Average for the Top 10 Movies That Year: 4.38x
  • Final Worldwide Gross: $353m

beach-scene-james-mcavoy-and-michael-fassbender-25566630-720-288-x-men-first-class-movie-review First Class improbably emerged as one of if not the best X-Men films of all time, led by a truly killer new trio of Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence. It just didn’t seem to matter, though. The damage done to the franchise by Last Stand and Origins was seemingly irreparable, or at the very least it was going to take not just one good new X-Men movie but several of them to win back the Last Stand/Origins haters.

That’s not to say First Class‘ quality went completely ignored. Word of mouth was strong enough to result in the franchise’s second best multiplier to that point. Plus, considering the decade which had passed since the first X-Men many fans first came to the franchise through First Class.

But talk about deja vu. Despite its creative bonafides, the first X-Men movie still had to contend with a stigma, i.e.,  those who would say, “I don’t care how good it is. I’m not seeing another superhero movie, not after Batman & Robin.” It didn’t find its widest audience until home video, which fed directly into the sequel. History repeated itself with First Class, but this time around the studio wasn’t willing to do a straight sequel. It was time for an all-star team-up. Before we could get there, though, we had this curious little detour:

The Wolverine (2013)

  • RottenTomatoes: 70%
  • Opening Weekend: $53m
  • Records: None
  • Second-Weekend Drop: -59%
  • Final Domestic Gross: $132m
  • Position in the Year-End Top 20: Didn’t make the cut (#22)
  • Weekend-to-final multiplier: 2.4x
  • Average for the Top 10 Movies That Year3.51x
  • Final Worldwide Gross: $414m

hugh-jackman-the-wolverineAnd this is when America became just another marketplace for the X-Men movies. Both First Class and Origins had been saved by strong international showings ($193m and $207m respectively), but The Wolverine was the first X-Men film to be released in 3D. It didn’t so much matter, then, that it set a franchise low for domestic gross because it also set a franchise high for international gross ($282m), thus combining to make it the second-biggest X-Men film of all time worldwide ($414m, behind The Last Stand’s $459m)). Wolverine did all of that despite being a much smaller movie, both in budget ($120m) and scope, than usual for the franchise, somewhat predicting the small bet-bigger returns formula perfected by Deadpool.

Moreover, by this point in film history all superhero movies were starting to become just as front-loaded as the X-Men movies always had been. Wolverine‘s 2.4x multiplier is right in line with 2013’s other superhero efforts – Iron Man 3 (2.35x), Man of Steel (2.5x) and Thor: The Dark World (2.4x).

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

  • RottenTomatoes: 91%
  • Opening Weekend: $90m (Fri-Sun), $110m (Fri-Mon Memorial Day)
  • Records: Fifth biggest Memorial Day opening
  • Second-Weekend Drop: -64%
  • Final Domestic Gross: $233m
  • Position in the Year-End Top 20: #9
  • Weekend-to-final multiplier: 2.5x
  • Average for the Top 10 Movies That Year4.21x
  • Final Worldwide Gross: $747m

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-Quicksilver-Magneto-Proffesor-Xavier-and-WolverineIt’s still somewhat stunning that Fox took such a huge swing with this movie, committing the second highest budget in studio history to a franchise which had financially peaked nearly a decade earlier. The gamble paid off, just not exactly in the way everyone expected. Due to 3D and general ticket price inflation, Days of Future Past was thought to be a lock to at least topple The Last Stand‘s $234 franchise high (it fell $1m short). But that’s such a 2006 way of looking at it. By 2014, it was more important that Days of Future Past obliterated the franchise records for international ($514m) and worldwide ($747m) gross. Sure, it was still front-loaded domestically, trailing the 2014 top-10 average of 4.21x, but so did all of the other comic book movies that year (Guardians of the Galaxy – 3.54, Winter Solider – 2.72, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – 2.21).

Deadpool (2016)

  • RottenTomatoes: 83%
  • Opening Weekend: $132m
  • Records: Biggest All-Time Opening (R-Rated, President’s Day, February, Winter)
  • Second-Weekend Drop: -57%
  • Final Domestic Gross: $362m
  • Position in the Year-End Top 20: #6
  • Weekend-to-final multiplier: 2.74x
  • Average for the Top 10 Movies That Year3.3x
  • Final Worldwide Gross: $783m

Deadpool SeatWhen you remind people that Deadpool is technically an X-Men movie they’re likely to cringe. Yes, Wade only becomes Deadpool after going through a modified Weapon X program. Yes, he visits Xavier’s mansion, and eventually partners with Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead. But, c’mon, this isn’t an X-Men movie. Not really. Its themes and tone are completely its own, and its unique box office profile (R-rated, released in February) limits the usefulness of comparisons to prior X-Men movies. It’s also not even an entirely useful comparison for Logan because though both films are R-Rated they could not be more different in tone. Plus, Deadpool‘s 2nd and 3rd weekends brought only Risen and Gods of Egypt as significant new movies. Poor Logan has Skull Island and Beauty and the Beast.

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

  • RottenTomatoes: 48%
  • Opening Weekend: $65m (for traditional 3-day weekend), $79.8m (for 4-day Memorial Day holiday)
  • Records: None
  • Second-Weekend Drop: -65%
  • Final Domestic Gross: $155m
  • Position in the Year-End Top 20: #17
  • Weekend-to-final multiplier: 2.38x
  • Average for the Top 10 Movies That Year: 3.3x
  • Final Worldwide Gross: $543m

Compared to Days of Future Past, Apocalypse’s opening weekend, final domestic and final worldwide gross numbers were off 32%, 40% and 31% respectively, but its second weekend drop was almost identical (-65% v. -64%). Plus, since Apocalypse is exactly the kind of language-neutral blockbuster the international market eats up these days it now ranks as the third-highest grossing X-Men movie worldwide (behind Days of Future Past and Deadpool). As such, even though Jennifer Lawrence now openly laughs about returning to the franchise and Bryan Singer has retreated back into producer mode it’s not stunning that Apocalypse’s producers Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker are still plotting a direct sequel with the young Jean and crew.

Logan (2017)

  • RottenTomatoes: 92%
  • Opening Weekend Domestic: $88m
  • Records: Top Opening of the Year (Until Beauty and the Beast in 2 weeks), 4th Biggest Opening for R-Rated Movie, 4th Biggest March Opening
  • Opening Weekend International: $159m from 81 markets
  • Records: Fox’s third biggest international debut behind Days of Future Past ($172 million) and Avatar ($164 million), neither of which were R-Rated (obviously).

It’s the best reviewed X-Men movie of all time, certainly the first to inspire awards talk. With a budget of just $100m, it’s also the cheapest X-Men movie since the first. So, Logan‘s 3-day global debut of $247m has likely already offset Fox’s budget and marketing costs. Really, anything from this point forward is a bonus, and if any X-Men could break the second weekend curse it would seem to be Logan (because the hyperbolic buzz surrounding Logan is completely unique in franchise history). However, isn’t it just like Fox to have put out what many have called the best X-Men movie of all time in the busiest March of all time? Can Logan and Skull Island happily co-exist? We’ll soon find out because [wait for it] only time will truly tell. Boo!

Source: Forbes

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