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"X-Men" Stands On Top Of Historical Weekend Box Office

X-menThe third installment of the mutant superhero tale "X-Men" has reigned supreme at the box office this weekend, blowing past last weekend's box office champ - "The Da Vinci Code" - and setting several box office records, according to Box Office Mojo.

"X-Men: The Last Stand" stormed theaters, taking in an estimated $120.1 million over the four-day holiday weekend and surpassing the previous Memorial Day benchmark - the $90.2 million taken in by 1997's "The Lost World: Jurassic Park."

Twentieth Century Fox's latest entry in the Marvel Comics franchise drew a whopping $103.1 million from Friday to Sunday, ranking as the fourth highest-grossing weekend ever. Its $45.5 million opening day, which included $5.9 million from midnight screenings, marked the second-biggest single day, behind the $50 million brought in by last year's "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith."

The latest "X-Men" also easily surpassed the three-day opening grosses of the two previous movies in the franchise. It did nearly double the gross of the original "X-Men," which debuted with $54.4 million in 2000 (eventually reaching a domestic gross of $157.3 million) and well exceeded "X2: X-Men United," which opened with $85.6 million in 2003 (eventually grossing $214.9 million domestically).  Both prior films debuted over non-holiday weekends and carried production budgets significantly lower than the reported $165 million to $200 million for "X-Men: The Last Stand."

"It would have been spectacular to equal 'X2''s three-day over the four days with all the competition from 'The Da Vinci Code,' 'Over the Hedge,' etc." said Bruce Snyder, Fox's president of distribution. "I did not expect to exceed 'X2,' which opened all by itself at the beginning of May. It's beyond core fans when you get this high."

Originally boosted by the book's millions of fans and controversy over its religious implications, in its second weekend "The Da Vinci Code" dove 56 percent. For the four-day weekend, the theological thriller claimed an estimated $43 million, raising its total to $145.5 million in 11 days.

Paramount Pictures said it took the No. 3 and No. 4 places with the cute, fuzzy animal cartoon "Over the Hedge" ($27.3 million) and the Tom Cruise action flick "Mission: Impossible III" ($6.6 million), respectively.

"X-Men: The Last Stand" stars (to name a few) Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Famke Janssen as Dr. Jean Grey (and her alter ego Dark Phoenix), Patrick Stewart as Xavier, Halle Berry as Storm, James Marsden as Cyclops, Anna Paquin as Rogue, Ian McKellen as Magneto, Rebecca Romijn as Mystique and featured the new additions of Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Henry McCoy (aka Beast) and Ben Foster as Warren Worthington III (aka Angel).

The film was directed by Brett Ratner, who is best known for the "Rush Hour" films. He took over the "X-Men" project from Bryan Singer, who is directing this year's "Superman Returns."  Among his other projects, Ratner also will direct "Rush Hour 3" which is slated to be released next year.

While rumors circulate over whether there will be another "X-Men" installment (despite this one being hailed as the third of a "trilogy"), fans can look forward to further mutant tales with Hugh Jackman and Wolverine in the spin-off film scheduled for release next year simply entitled "Wolverine."  Of course, since the film is still listed as "announced" in IMDb, anything can happen between now and then.  With the success of "Last Stand," though, it's more than likely that the studio will want to continue the franchise for as long as possible.  -- Shannon Nolley

Posted by Shannon on May 30, 2006 2:39 PM
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