Illumination/Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets 2 might win over U.S./Canada this weekend with a projected $60M, but Disney/Fox’s Dark Phoenix is expected to take over the world with at least a $170M global day-and-date launch.
In what is the last Fox/Marvel X-Men movie before Disney’s MCU likely reboots the mutant hero franchise, Dark Phoenix will touch down in all major territories, save Japan and Indonesia, with China as the swing country. In the Middle Kingdom, Dark Phoenix will have the added plus of the Dragon Boat holiday, but there’s local competition from Chasing the Dragon II and My Best Summer. Current tracking for Dark Phoenix in China is $50M-$60M, repping around 50% of the pic’s $120M overseas start.
There’s a chance Dark Phoenix could rise to $135M abroad. The overseas opening range is down from the previous 2016 movie X-Men: Apocalypse‘s $148M start (in like-for-like markets at today’s rates). Chinese ticket sales were a big deal for both Apocalypse and X-Men: Days of Future Past, repping 22% and 31% of their respective final foreign hauls of $388.4M and $513.9M. In fact, one of the reasons Dark Phoenix flew to June from its previous February 14 date was to snatch a better spot in China. The trailer, after dropping back in the fall, clocked 44M views in its first 24 hours of release in the People’s Republic.
Here in U.S./Canada, Dark Phoenix eyeing $50M-$55M at 3,700 theaters and pacing far behind 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse ($65.7M 3-day, $79.8M Memorial Day 4-day opening). With reviews at 22% on Rotten Tomatoes, lower than Apocalypse‘s 47%, let’s hope Dark Phoenix doesn’t burst into flames, which at an estimated $200M production cost would make it summer’s second bomb after Legendary/Warner Bros. Godzilla: King of the Monsters last weekend. Previews start at 7 PM on Thursday with select 6 PM Imax fan events. Domestic theater count consists of 2,300 3D locations, 400 Imax screens, 650 Premium Large Format screens and 200 D-Box/4D locations. The lowest domestic opening for an X-Men title remains 2000’s Bryan Singer-directed first film at $54.4M, with Matthew Vaugn’s 2011 younger-generation reboot X-Men: First Class being the second-lowest at $55.1M.
Simon Kinberg, who has produced and written a slew of X-Men movies, makes his feature directorial debut with Dark Phoenix. It centers on telepathic Jean Grey, (played in the initial trilogy by Famke Janssen but portrayed here by Sophie Turner). In the latest chapter, Grey gets corrupted and becomes the Dark Phoenix and the X-Men team has to decide if the greater good is saving Jean or the world.
In regards to overseas play, it’s tempting to compare Dark Phoenix to 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine — but that was before the China boom, as was X-Men: First Class. The R-rated Logan topped $100M in China by the end of its run. If we look at the more recent titles, they each had their best performance overall in a mix of China, Korea and the UK. (France and Australia are also big X-Men markets.). Outside of China, the disappointment of Godzilla: King of the Monsters could work in Jean Grey’s favor. There is not much other major movement in the markets. Korea will still be one to watch as Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite has not slowed in the midweeks so far. Thursday is the local Memorial Day holiday. India could be in the balance as icon Salman Khan’s Bharat bows there for the Eid al-fitr holiday.
In terms of overseas travel, the X-Men have been out in force. In mid-May, Turner and Jessica Chastain were in Mexico City. The latter actress headed to Moscow with James McAvoy and Kinberg. In the UK, the whole team turned out for a premiere including Michael Fassbender, McAvoy, Chastain and Turner who also put in a sit-down on The Graham Norton Show.
****More domestic weekend breakdown****
The Secret Life of Pets 2 will start previews at 6PM tomorrow before expanding to around 4,440 theaters. The first 2016 movie’s opening at $104.3M is the best 3-day for an original feature and an original animated movie. Over the last week, Secret Life of Pets 2 saw gains among parents, kids and general moviegoers. Older females and teen females are also apt to choose Secret Life of Pets 2 over Dark Phoenix. Even though the sequel’s forecasted opening is lower than the original pic, it’s made at a standard cheap Illumination production cost at $80M.
Secret Life of Pets 2 will open in an additional 20 offshore markets this weekend, but isn’t expected to rise to the level of Dark Phoenix given its gradual rollout. Already, the sequel has made over $32M in nine countries.
Last weekend’s No. 1 film Godzilla: King of the Monsters will fall at least -60% in weekend 2 for $19M. Lizard’s current running total through five days is $57.1M. Disney’s Aladdin has been whipping his butt in midweek ticket sales.
Among the sleepers, Paramount/Marv Films’ Rocketman will dip 40% for a second weekend of $15.4M. Current running total through five days is $31.8M. Universal/Blumhouse’s Ma is expected to decline 60% for a weekend No. 2 of $7.2M. Running total through Tuesday is at $22.2M.
Amazon Studios’ $13M Sundance pick-up Late Night starring, written and produced by Mindy Kaling, will open at four locations in NY and LA: The Angelika, AMC Lincoln Square, The Landmark on Pico Blvd. and Hollywood Arclight.
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