After nearly 20 years and a dozen films, the current manifestation of X-Men movies is going out with a whimper.
Scorched by poor reviews, the $US200 million ($A286 million) Dark Phoenix earned a franchise low of just $US33 million ($A47 million) at the box office in the US on the weekend for a second-place finish, according to studio estimates. First place went instead to The Secret Life of Pets 2.
Australian box office results for X-Men’s opening weekend have not yet been released.
Directed by longtime X-Men scribe Simon Kinberg, Dark Phoenix focuses on Jean Grey who is played by Sophie Turner fresh off of her Game of Thrones run as Sansa Stark. It also brings back James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s the de facto conclusion to the modern X-Men movies that started in 2000.
But the quality wasn’t there, and it scored even worse reviews overall than the widely disparaged X-Men: Apocalypse. Audiences who showed up seemed to concur with the critics, giving it a deadly B- CinemaScore.
Newscorp’s own Vicky Roach gave the film a two-and-a-half star rating, writing that it ends the franchise “with a fizzle, not a bang”.
“There is so much here that’s worth exploring, but writer-director Simon Kinberg barely scratches the surface,” she wrote.
“Only Lawrence and Michael Fassbender manage to layer their characters with some of the depth of X-Men’s extensive back catalogue.”
Cathleen Taff, Disney’s president of theatrical distribution, said the box office result was “softer than we hoped”.
While the film didn’t open the way we wanted, we think the legacy of the X-Men series is important, and it’s more important than how one film opens. We’re trying to keep it in perspective.”
Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore, noted even with the lacklustre North American debut and reception, internationally Dark Phoenix was No. 1 with $US107 million ($A153 million) from 53 territories including China. Globally, it has already earned $US140 million ($A200 million).
“In the international marketplace, it seems like the spectacle and the brand wins out,” Mr Dergarabedian said.
Also, the X-Men characters, which had been licensed to Fox, are now expected to be integrated with Disney’s stable of characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.