So far, 2016’s box office has been dominated by superhero films. In February, Deadpool shattered records and quickly became the highest-grossing R-rated film ever worldwide. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, while falling short of Warner Bros.’ $1 billion goal, still turned a neat profit and set new marks during its opening weekend back in March. And of course, Marvel Studios released Captain America: Civil War in May and watched their superhero epic become the first movie of the year to reach $1 billion globally.
This brings us to X-Men: Apocalypse, which was released over the Memorial Day holiday last week. When compared to similar titles, the X-Men franchise has always gotten the short end of the stick commercially. The nine films in the series (including Deadpool) have made $4.2 billion collectively at the global box office. The MCU (which is 13 movies in) recently crossed $10 billion. Apocalypse won its opening weekend showdown with Alice Through the Looking Glass handily last week, but its $79.8 million was a far cry from the debut of 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past over the same time frame. Now, the latest installment in the long running series has been hit with a bad case of the second weekend blues.
In an article from Forbes, it’s reported that Apocalypse grossed $22.3 million over this past weekend, which is a 66 percent drop from its start. That makes it the second-lowest second weekend in franchise history, ahead of only The Wolverine. It’s another case of the X-Men films having weak legs commercially; 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand fell 66.9 percent and even Days of Future Past took a 64 percent hit after its opening weekend. For some reason, these movies aren’t in high demand after they hit theaters.
Problems first arose for Apocalypse when it saw a 75 percent Friday-to-Friday decrease. On May 27, it grossed $26.4 million (including Thursday previews), while on June 3 it took in just $6.5 million. That’s par for the course in this series (three other entries dropped 70+ percent in their second Fridays), but it’s more concerning in this instance since Apocalypse had one of the franchise’s softer debuts. In its first 10 days in North America, the film has made $116.4 million, meaning that its domestic total could be in the $156 – 167 million range. For comparison’s sake, Deadpool grossed $152.1 million over the four-day President’s Day weekend, and that was with a more restrictive rating and no 3D premiums.
Apocalypse has received a nice boost from the international markets, boasting a $402.5 million worldwide total. Still, it won’t be able to reach the heights of Civil War, and Batman V Superman‘s $800 million haul might also be out of reach. This puts Fox in a very interesting position as they try to manage the future of the X-Men franchise. Deadpool 2 is obviously poised to be a massive success, but the studio is also looking to develop Gambit, New Mutants, X-Force, and another core X-Men movie set in the 1990s. The onus is on them to figure out a way to bounce back so this property remains viable down the road. Fox has the franchise positioned as their chief tentpole for the time being, but they’re having difficulties keeping up with the competition.
Some may read these numbers as the result of franchise fatigue, and with nine films in 16 years, there may be some truth to that. However, it might not be that simple. After all, Days of Future Past became the brand’s top earner worldwide by a considerable margin just two years ago. Apocalypse‘s relative disappointment is most likely the byproduct of the mixed word-of-mouth, with many feeling it treaded similar waters to previous installments and didn’t bring much new to the table. If the next movie is critically acclaimed, then the fortunes could change. Longtime director Bryan Singer stepping down may be a good idea, since it will allow for fresh blood to lend their voice to the world. Whatever the case, Fox needs the next film to be a big hit, or they could be in trouble.
X-Men: Apocalypse is now playing in theaters. Wolverine 3 opens in U.S. theaters on March 3rd, 2017, followed by unannounced X-Men films on October 6th, 2017 (possibly Gambit), March 2nd, 2018 (possibly Deadpool 2), and June 29th, 2018 (possibly New Mutants). X-Force is also in development.