The end is near. The Apocalypse is upon us. That is to say, Fox’s X-men: Apocalypse rose to the top of the box office this Memorial Day weekend. Thanks to the four day weekend, it grossed $80 million as opposed to just $65 million over the three days. However, when compared to other superhero openings like Captain America: Civil War ($179 million), Batman Vs Superman ($166 million), and Deadpool ($152 million), it feels far from heroic. Even the previous X-men film, Days of Future Past grossed $110 million over it's four day Memorial weekend of 2014.

So why did this latest installment in the X-men universe perform so subpar? Perhaps it is due to the influx of superhero films this of late that caused the abilities of the mutants to be overlooked. Not only is this the fourth major superhero movie to release this year, X-men: Apocalypse released in theaters hot on the coattails of Civil War, which opened earlier this month as well. This begs the question - are audiences getting bored of these massive franchise movies? Most likely no, or else we'd have seen a much different story with Civil War. What is safe to say is that Fox Studios should have held off on a release of Apocalypse so close to Civil War. Yes, it was Memorial Day weekend, but you've got to give your audience a chance to build up a hunger again for an action packed superhero blockbuster.

But one thing 20th Century Fox is doing well is playing the long game. In this latest X-men film the studio has introduced several new characters into the franchise universe that are sure to return. Additionally, they used Hugh Jackman’s cameo in the film to tease at an upcoming Wolverine film, which will be rated R according to its producer on Collider.com.

Also new to the screen this week is Disney’s sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass with Johnny Depp. But one doesn’t have to look far down the rabbit hole to see that it’s four day gross of $34 million is a long ways from its 2010 weekend gross of $116 million. Despite being visually stunning, the film is being critiqued for a weak storyline. Critics point out that back in 2010, more people were intrigued to watch the relatively “new” 3D technology but the gimmick seems to be wearing off six years later.

Taking a look at last year’s Memorial Day weekend reveals quite a hit as well. Disney’s Tomorrowland was a giant flop and grossed only $33 million with a budget of $190 million.

But before we despair, we must remember that Disney still has several films keeping its numbers strong in the box office right now. Captain America, The Jungle Book, and Zootopia are still on the top ten list this long weekend. I’ll give another shout out to Zootopia since it has stuck on the top ten list for its 13th week now and is in spot 26 for the highest worldwide grosses ever! Because of the success of these other films, Disney just grossed $4 billion dollars worldwide!

One surprise this week is a the film Love and Friendship, a Jane Austen adaptation released by Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions, which jumped from spot 30 in its opening week to spot 9 in just three weeks by adding 446 theaters for Memorial weekend. According to the Chicago Tribune, this romantic comedy only cost around $3 million dollars. How is this possible, especially with a film that has such a high class (translation: really big production design value) feel? According to the Director Whit Stillman, he credits the achievement of filming in only 26 days and said that both himself and many of the producers decided not to take pay for the work. This week it made $2.5 million and it will be interested to see how this film does in the weeks to come as more people hear about it.

Next week's new theatre releases include the romantic drama Me Before You, Andy Samberg’s satirical comedy Popstar, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel. Romantic drama, Me Before You, isn’t a film that speaks to me personally, but it might do well with its target demographic; tragic love story enthusiasts and fans of author Jojo Moyes. With that said the film is lacking positive critic feedback and with a budget of $20 million this one might actually struggle to gross more than $12 million opening weekend. 

On the flip side I’m predicting Popstar to do relatively well this coming weekend, possibly placing it in the top 5. Now that most everyone who'd go see Popstar will have already seen Neighbors 2 at this point, Popstar won't really be competing for audience members. I’ve also noticed that the film has done a good job of marketing itself to an SNL-like audience, throwing up trailers on Youtube, Hulu, just to name a few high profile platforms. It clearly is cynical take on Pop Icons such as singers like Justin Bieber, which will alienate Beliebers, but it's spoof on celebrity fame will resonate well with Andy Samberg fans across the board. With a budget of $20 million, also, I'm predicting that the film will make back its entire budget within opening weekend.

The real question that I think we should all be asking is how will the Turtles fare? I suspect they'll face a bit of a struggle to shell out dollars next weekend for similar reasons as to why X-Men: Apocalypse did not in fact play as well this weekend. The market may in fact be just too crowded and saturated with superhero-like action films to really draw audiences in like the have in the past. The other major thing this film has going against it is that it's a sequel. Sequels rarely do better opening weekend than the original films do. Look at most of your superhero sequels and tell me I'm wrong. Because of this I'm doubting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows will gross better than $55 million. That will still place it at the top, given I don't expect Apocalypse to finish it's 2nd weekend with better than $50 million. But with a production budget of $125 million, the Turtles are going to take a pretty hard hit come this weekend.

Be sure to check out Adam's box office review come next week when he recaps the triumphs, failures, and final takeaways from the weekend!

-Alan Warner    

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