Box Office: ‘X-Men: First Class’ makes the grade over ‘Hangover 2’ for no. 1

When your critically acclaimed new movie opens lower than all the previous installments in the franchise, how do you spin success?  According to 20th Century Fox, the estimated $53-55 million opening of “X-Men: First Class” should be viewed similarly to the reboot of “Batman Begins.”

Matthew Vaughn’s reinterpretation of the early days of Magneto and Professor Xavier found $21 million on Friday.  That’s lower than “Thor’s” $25.4 million last month, but that Marvel title benefited from higher 3D and IMAX ticket prices. As for earlier “X-Men” films, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” debuted to $34.4 million just two years ago.  “X-Men,” “X2: X-Men United” and “X-Men: The Last Stand” found $20.7 million, $31.2 million and $45.1 million respectively.  Granted “First Class” didn’t feature the ever popular Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, but many in the industry would fault Fox for an uninspired publicity and marketing campaign.  The studio and fans of the franchise will have to hope word of mouth keeps “First Class” in theaters in order to justify another go around.

Dropping a bit more than expected in second place was “The Hangover, Pt. II” with $10.5 million.  Still, with $164.5 million in eight days, it’s no surprise Warner Bros. is already trying to convince the Wolfpack to return for a third vacation.

“Kung Fu Panda 2” grossed $6.3 million for what should be $21-23 million four the three-day frame.  With $82.4 million so far, it’s unlikley the DreamWorks Animation tentpole will reach the heights of the original’s $215 million.  The fate of this martial arts panda is going to lie overseas.

Fourth place went to “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”  The Disney adventure found another $5.1 million and $177.3 million to date.

“Bridesmaids” was solid in fifth with another $3.6 million and should easily pass the $100 million mark sometime today.

Look for complete box office estimates tomorrow on HitFix.

All you need to know about “X-Men: First Class” here!