With a mightily impressive £9.14m debut, X-Men: Days of Future Pasthas posted the biggest opening of 2014 so far, ahead of The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s £9.01m. Discounting previews from the tallies, Days of Future Past’s Friday-to-Sunday takings of £7.55m compares even more favourably with the equivalent number for Amazing Spidey 2: £6.13m.
The success of the film so far is in contrast to the numbers for spin-off films X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine, which achieved a respective £16.38m and £13.70m over their lifetimes, and 2011’s cast refresh X-Men: First Class, which clawed its way to £15.02m. Adding in the 26 May bank holiday takings, Days of Future Past is already at £11.6m (after five days of play), and is clearly going to sail past the lifetime totals of all those recent X-Men films.
Days of Future Past has in fact posted the top opening number of any X-Men film, ahead of previous best debutant X-Men: The Last Stand(£7.09m, including £1.03m in previews). In terms of final tallies, X-Men 2 currently is the franchise victor, with £20.70m. The latest instalment should easily overtake that number.
Pointing to reasons for success, it’s hard to decide between the return of director Bryan Singer and the excitement generated by combining the two X-Men casts. Marvel certainly discovered that more can be more when it combined Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk in Avengers Assemble, achieving box-office far ahead of anything seen from those individual characters.
The X-Men have always been mid-level commercial performers in the UK – all the films so far have been convincingly beaten here by all of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies as well as reboot The Amazing Spider-Man – so 20th Century Fox does seem to have finally made a breakthrough with the latest film. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has achieved £23.64m so far, and Fox will be hoping to push Days of Future Past to similar levels.
Given the result, it’s no surprise to hear that Fox plans to include original cast members in next instalment X-Men: Apocalypse, due in 2016, and it will take screenwriter ingenuity to keep the twin timelines credibly bubbling along.
Falling 47% to second place, Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla has now stomped its way to a muscular £11.83m after 11 days of play, and £12.7m including bank holiday Monday. Roland Emmerich’s 1998 version reached just shy of £16m over the course of its lifetime, a figure the new film will match fairly soon. Adjusting for ticket-price inflation, it’s a different story.
Godzilla was always going to be vulnerable to X-Men on its second weekend – the films appeal to similar audiences – and backers Warner Bros will be hoping that the film can now stabilise. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which is arguably the other current title most vulnerable to Wolverine and friends, fell 43%, a similar drop to Godzilla. Most other films posted much stronger holds, and cooling temperatures (compared to blazing hot skies the previous weekend) were presumably a factor.