May 28, 2016

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “X-Men: Apocalypse” Underwhelms, “Alice 2″” Flops


Franchises are the lifeblood of Hollywood, so it has to chill studios to see three of those entries falter in a single 2-weekend period, especially since the stakes are higher for this week’s arrivals than last week’s Neighbors 2.

Based on the preliminary $27M Friday number at Deadline, X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (TSG/20th) is running almost 25% behind Days of Future Past, which opened on Memorial Day weekend 2 years ago with $35.5M.  That would put the Apocalypse 4-day weekend at $83M, but the final result could be worse.  Apocalypse is more front-loaded than Future Past, with more of its “opening day” coming from Thursday night screenings.  On a pure Friday-to-Friday basis, the decline is more like 33%, and if that trend continues through the weekend, Apocalypse might only hit $75M by Monday.  This all translates into a final US gross of $157-175M, compared to Future Past‘s $233.9M, which would put Apocalypse at #5 of the 8 X-Men movies (not counting Deadpool, which although technically part of the X-Men universe is really its own entity).  None of that means Apocalypse won’t hit profit, even with production/marketing costs upwards of $300M, since in a worst case scenario where international box office dips as much as the US (it was already at $130M overseas as of Thursday with China among the territories yet to open), it would still top $500M worldwide.  But these movies aren’t made to barely pay for themselves, and there will be concern about the next X-Men extravaganza, especially since it’s going to be another Wolverine chapter, and those are already at the lower end of the franchise.

Things are much worse for ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (Disney), a disaster already after a $9M opening day.  That’s down an incredible 78% from the $40.8M opening day of Alice In Wonderland in 2010.  Looking Glass will benefit from the 4-day holiday weekend, but even it it reaches $40M by Monday, that will be down 68% from the $125.1M 1st 4 days of Wonderland.  Some decline was expected, since there’s a general consensus that Wonderland wasn’t a very good movie that was boosted by the post-Avatar excitement over 3D spectacles, but still, this result is awful.  With the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opening next week, it will have instant competition for the family audience, and its US total may not get much higher than $100M.  That could mean $350M or so worldwide, which would give Disney a big loss on $300M+ in production/marketing costs (admittedly, a loss the studio can easily bear after its fantastic 6-month run of one blockbuster after another).  The big loser here may be Johnny Depp, who’s been kept afloat despite one flop after another because of his huge franchise strength.  (And obviously this week’s tawdry news about accusations of domestic abuse by his estranged wife don’t help his image any.)  The next Pirates of the Caribbean installment is scheduled for 1 year from now, and that could be a pivotal moment in his career.

Even though Alice Through the Looking Glass is DOA, it’s still direct competition for THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE (Rovio/Columbia/Sony), pushing the Birds down 53% from last Friday to $5.1M.  It might hit $30M for the 4-day weekend, which would be less than the 2d Fri-Mon of Hotel Transylvania, even though that movie’s 2d Monday wasn’t a holiday.  Angry Birds is headed for $125M in the US, a modest success thanks to its moderate $200M production/marketing cost, but with borderline franchise possibilities.

There weren’t any new comedies in the market, but that didn’t help NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING (Good Universe/Universal), which plunged 70% from last Friday to $2.6M, and may get to $12M for the 4-day weekend.  It’s on the way to $60M in the US, down 60% from the first Neighbors, and will need some help overseas to recoup its $125M in production/marketing costs.

THE NICE GUYS (Waypoint/Warners) held better, down 39% from last Friday, but that still put the day at just $1.8M, with perhaps $9M by Monday and a final US total around $40M, another failure aimed at older audiences.

The longer runs were led again by CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (Marvel/Disney), although the arrival of X-Men pushed it down 52% from last Friday to $4.1M.  That’s below the $5.1-5.4M parallel days (down 46-47% from their previous Fridays) for Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron, and with Civil War running out of gas a bit faster than those, its final US total may be around $415M, slightly ahead of Iron Man 3‘s $409M, and also seeking that movie’s $1.2B worldwide total.  Although the word “disappointing” has limited meaning at those levels, Civil War was expected to be a notch higher, since it’s more of an Avengers movie than merely a Captain America chapter, and combined with the steeper drop for the new X-Men, it suggests that the superhero genre may indeed have peaked.

THE JUNGLE BOOK (Disney) wasn’t hurt by the new arrivals, down just 33% from last Friday to $1.8M, and headed for a $11M 4-day weekend.  By Monday, it should have nudged ahead of stablemate Zootopia as the #3 movie of the year in the US (behind Deadpool and Civil War), and has a shot at beating Deadpool‘s $362.8M.

There weren’t any major new limited releases this weekend, but several indies chose the holiday to expand.  LOVE & FRIENDSHIP (Amazon/Roadside) moved into near-wide release at 493 theatres, and might earn $2.7M over the Fri-Sun part of the weekend, a creditable per-theatre average around $5500.  THE LOBSTER (A24) expanded to 116 and may also average $5500 for the 3-day weekend.  Similar weekend averages may apply to WEINER (IFC) and MAGGIE’S PLAN (Sony Classics), although at a respective 27 and 19 theatres, that number would be less notable.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."