X-Men: First Class movie box office: Starring James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, Matthew Vaughn’s prequel sold fewer tickets in the domestic market than its predecessors
June 3–5 weekend box office: Coproduced by Bryan Singer (the director of X-Men and X2), directed by Matthew Vaughn (of the superhero spoof Kick-Ass), and featuring a name cast – James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, etc. – the latest entry in Marvel Entertainment/20th Century Fox’s long-running X-Men franchise, X-Men: First Class, opened with $55.1 million (including $3.4 million from Thursday midnight screenings) from 3,641 North American (U.S. and Canada only) theaters as per final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.
Is that good or bad for a movie that cost a reported $160 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses)?
A movie that earns $55+ million in its first three days out in the domestic market could hardly be considered a box office dud. And yet X-Men: First Class is an undeniable disappointment when compared to, for instance, the $65.7 million Kenneth Branagh’s Thor earned from 3,955 locations on its debut weekend last May.
Okay, so Thor had the advantage of 3D surcharges – but Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins didn’t. The first live-action Caped Crusader movie in eight years (since Joel Schumacher’s 1997 flop Batman & Robin), Batman Begins opened with $48.8 million (inflation-adjusted: approx. $60 million) from 3,858 locations in June 2005.
Prequel vs. previous X-Men titles: Least successful debut
Now, how does X-Men: First Class compare to its X-Men predecessors?
Directed by the aforementioned Bryan Singer, X-Men opened domestically with $54.5 million (inflation-adjusted: approx. $79 million) from 3,065 locations in July 2000, ending its run with $157.3 million, in addition to $139 million internationally. Worldwide total: $296.3 million. Budget: $75 million.
Also directed by Bryan Singer, X2 – a.k.a. X2: X-Men United – opened domestically with $85.6 million (inflation-adjusted: approx. $112 million) from 3,741 locations in April 2003, ending its run with $204.9 million, in addition to $192.8 million internationally. Worldwide total: $407.7 million. Budget: $110 million.
Directed by Brett Ratner, X-Men: The Last Stand opened domestically with $102.8 million (inflation-adjusted: approx. $124 million) from 3,690 locations in May 2006, ending its run with $234.3 million, in addition to $226.1 million internationally. Worldwide total: $460.4 million. Budget: $210 million.
Directed by Gavin Hood, X-Men Origins: Wolverine opened domestically with $85.1 million (inflation-adjusted: approx. $90 million) from 4,099 locations in May 2009, ending its run with $179.9 million, in addition to $193.2 million internationally. Worldwide total: $373.1 million. Budget: $150 million.
As can be seen, X-Men: First Class had – by far – the X-Men series’ least attended debut in the domestic market. And barring a summer box office miracle, its opening-weekend figure all but guarantees that this moderately well-received* prequel will have trouble to as much as match its budget at the U.S. and Canada box office.
* X-Men: First Class has a 73 percent approval rating (6.7/10 average) among Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics.”
X-Men: First Class cast
In addition to James McAvoy as Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart in the original X-Men trilogy), Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Ian McKellen), and Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone, 2010) as the shape-shifting Raven/Mystique (Rebecca Romijn), the X-Men: First Class cast includes Rose Byrne as CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Olivia Williams), January Jones as the undergarment-wearing telepath Emma Frost, Nicholas Hoult as the genius scientist Hank McCoy/Beast (Steve Bacic in X2, Kelsey Grammer in X-Men: The Last Stand), and Kevin Bacon as the mutant supremacist Sebastian Shaw.
Also: Oliver Platt, Jason Flemyng, Álex González, Caleb Landry Jones, Zoë Kravitz, Michael Ironside, and James Remar.
Plus Hugh Jackman in a cameo as the Wolverine.
Solid global take – but…
Update: Matthew Vaughn’s prequel X-Men: First Class ultimately collected $146.4 million domestically and $206.2 million internationally. Worldwide total: $352.6 million.
Though a solid global figure, that was far from enough for the superhero actioner to recover its overall costs at the box office alone.
X-Men: First Class’ top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($24.7 million), France ($19.5 million), South Korea ($18 million), Australia ($15.5 million), Brazil ($15.3 million), Mexico ($13.5 million), Russia/CIS ($9.4 million), Spain ($8.4 million), Japan ($7.8 million), and Germany ($7 million).
Behind every previous X-Men movie
Something else: Let’s not ignore the fact that the original X-Men’s global cume ($296.3 million) represented around $388 million in 2011 (via the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator, as the worldwide take includes overseas grosses).
Moral of the story: The first entry in the X-Men prequel movies trailed every previous X-Men title at the global box office.
And yet X-Men: First Class would be followed by two hugely successful Bryan Singer-directed entries, X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014; global gross: $746 million; budget: $200 million) and X-Men: Apocalypse (2016; global gross: $543.9 million; budget: $178 million), and by Simon Kinberg’s hugely disappointing X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019; global gross: $252.4 million; budget: $200 million).
Top Five titles: Raunchy comedies & adventure tales
Rounding out the Top Five movies on this past weekend’s domestic box office chart were:
- At no. 2, Todd Phillips’ raunchy, male-centered comedy The Hangover Part II grossed $31.4 million (down a whopping 64 percent on its second weekend [the original The Hangover was down 27 percent on its second weekend]). Cume: $185.8 million. Worldwide (estimate): $337.3 million. Cast: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Justin Bartha.
- At no. 3, Jennifer Yuh Nelson’s computer-animated martial arts comedy Kung Fu Panda 2 grossed $23.9 million (down 50 percent on its second weekend). Cume: $100 million. Worldwide (estimate): $225 million. Voice cast: Jack Black and Angelina Jolie.
- At no. 4, Rob Marshall’s adventure Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides grossed $18 million (down 55 percent on its third weekend). Cume: $190.2 million. Worldwide (estimate): $790.6 million. Cast: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane, and Sam Claflin.
- At no. 5, Paul Feig’s raunchy, female-centered comedy Bridesmaids grossed $12 million (down a modest 27 percent on its fourth weekend). Cume: $107.2 million. Cast: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, and Rose Byrne.
Also this past weekend, Woody Allen’s critically acclaimed comedy fantasy Midnight in Paris – on its way to becoming one of the filmmaker’s biggest box office hits – grossed an estimated $2.9 million from 147 venues – up 52 percent after adding 89 sites on its third weekend. In the cast: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Marion Cotillard.
“X-Men: First Class Movie Box Office” endnotes
Unless otherwise noted, “X-Men: First Class Movie Box Office: Franchise’s Least Attended” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).
Comments about X-Men: First Class and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).
Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).
Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.
Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office take at top-priced venues.
Michael Fassbender and January Jones X-Men: First Class movie images: Murray Close | 20th Century Fox.
“X-Men: First Class Movie Box Office: Franchise’s Least Attended” last updated in February 2023.