Now that Disney owns FOX Studios, and the X-Men and villains that came with it, “Dark Phoenix” is closing out the franchise. The X-Men movies have a twenty-year history with fans around the world, and while the films have seen their ups and downs at the box office, the franchise has been a steady money-maker for the studio. For “Dark Phoenix” to end at the top of the franchise, the final installment will have to break some pretty high numbers, both on its opening weekend and worldwide gross, but an empty weekend at the box office is giving the film a solid chance to end on a high note.
With eleven films, spanning back to the years when “Dawson’s Creek” was the top show, and Faith Hill’s “Breathe” was playing on every radio, the franchise has adjusted well. Despite numerous casting and directorial changes, the franchise managed to create two successful spinoffs, and a prequel series.
The franchise started in 2000 with Bryan Singer’s “X-Men,” starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, and Rebecca Romijn. The movie opened across 3,000 theaters nationwide, bringing in $54M on its debut before topping out at $296M globally. The success of the film earned the franchise a sequel, and Bryan Singer returned to direct “X2: X-Men United” in 2003. The sequel brought back all of the key players and added Brian Cox and Alan Cumming to the cast. The follow-up beat expectations, and “The Lizzie McGuire Movie,” bringing in $85.5M on its opening weekend before grossing over $407M worldwide. While the sequel was a hit, Bryan Singer didn’t return to direct the third installment, and Brett Ratner stepped in to direct “X-Men: The Last Stand” in 2006. The third film brought back the characters from the first two movies and fans flooded into theaters. The third film brought in over $102M on its opening weekend, and over $459M globally.
With the trilogy complete, and fans still eager for more X-Men action, the studio introduced a spinoff with its most popular character Wolverine. Gavin Hood directed “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” in 2009, bringing back Hugh Jackman and adding Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Dominic Monaghan, Ryan Reynolds, and Taylor Kitsch. The spinoff was a hit, opening with $85M across 4,000 theaters and earning $374M for the studio. Hugh Jackman’s “Wolverine” spinoff proved that fans were eager to see more X-Men adventures, but the studio wanted a younger cast for the franchise. A prequel series was created, and it started with “X-Men: First Class” in 2011.
Matthew Vaughn directed the first prequel installment, which brought in Lucas Till, Annabelle Wallis, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Kevin Bacon, Nicholas Hoult, Oliver Platt, and Jason Flemyng. Fans seemed skeptical of the rebooted franchise at first, and the movie only made $55M on opening weekend. Despite the slow start, the prequel still ended its theatrical run with an impressive $353M total. FOX even brought in Hugh Jackman for a quick cameo, showing fans that not all of the characters were recast.
The cameo helped prep fans for James Mangold’s “The Wolverine,” and the second spinoff installment released in 2013. Once again featuring Hugh Jackman, the movie opened with $53M and made over $414.8M worldwide. Hot on the heels of the new Wolverine movie, the follow-up installment to the prequel series released in theaters. With Bryan Singer and Hugh Jackman returning to the main franchise, fans rushed to theaters in 2014 to see “X-Men: Days of Future Past“. The second prequel installment made $90M on its debut weekend and over $747M worldwide.
In 2016 FOX decided to release a little movie called “Deadpool,” directed by Tim Miller and starring former “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” star Ryan Reynolds. While the story doesn’t really connect to the X-Men universe, the film topped expectations in 2016 with a $132M opening and a $783M box office total. FOX banked on the hype of “Deadpool” to promote the third film in the prequel series, “X-Men: Apocalypse,” once again with Bryan Singer directing. The movie brought back former prequel stars like Lucas Till, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, and Nicholas Hoult, and added new faces like Oscar Isaac, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, and Evan Peters. The movie opened at number-one with a $65M debut before grossing over $543M for the studio.
With the prequels ending and “Deadpool” starting a new generation of spinoffs, the studio was left with one more problem, Hugh Jackman leaving the franchise. A swan song for Wolverine was created in 2017 called “Logan“. James Mangold returned to direct Hugh Jackman, and the goodbye letter made $88M before closing out in theaters with a $619M worldwide gross. After Hugh Jackman said goodbye, FOX released “Deadpool 2,” which had a $125M opening and a $785M worldwide total.
Simon Kinberg is directing the final X-Men installment under FOX Studios. The movie brings back Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Evan Peters for a movie adaptation of one of the most popular stories in the franchise. Taking “Deadpool” out of the running, “Dark Phoenix” is hoping to top the $102M opening that “X-Men: The Last Stand” saw in 2006. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” still holds the record for highest worldwide gross, sitting pretty with a $747.9M total.
“Dark Phoenix” is opening against “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” so little one have an animated-comedy to watch if their parents are scared away by Dark Phoenix’s PG-13 rating. The movie competes against “Men in Black International” and “Shaft” the following week, with “Anna,” “Child’s Play,” and “Toy Story 4” opening the following weekend. The second weekend could split the box office for “Dark Phoenix,” but international markets could push the movie to number one in worldwide gross.
Disney also has to work with “New Mutants,” a film stuck in limbo after the FOX buyout. Directed by Josh Boone, the X-Men universe spinoff features Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Antonio Banderas, Sarah Bennani, and Charlie Heaton. The film was scheduled to release in 2018, but is now hoping for a 2020 release. The studio reportedly fought Boone on the horror aspects of the story, but after “IT” and “Deadpool” rampaged through the theaters, the studio changed its mind. Countless reshoots and rewrites pushed the film’s release date back, and the FOX buyout made finishing and releasing the film even more difficult.
Disney hasn’t made any official announcements about bringing the X-Men into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but with Captain America and Tony Stark gone, it’s far more likely that the Fantastic Four will become the new central hub of the story line.
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