X-Men sequel tops Avatar as Fox's biggest global debut


LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Mutant superhero movie X-Men: Days of Future Past powered to US$302 million (S$378 million) in worldwide ticket sales through the US Memorial Day holiday on Monday, capping a weekend in which it surpassed Avatar as the biggest global debut for film studio 20th Century Fox.

The seventh instalment in the X-Men franchise topped US and Canadian movie charts with US$111.0 million from Friday through Monday, according to estimates from tracking firm Rentrak. The film earned an additional US$191.0 million at theatres around the world, Fox said.

The X-Men sequel was boosted by strong reviews, including a 91 per cent positive rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website, and an "A" grade in audience polling by CinemaScore, Fox executives said. The film drew an ethnically diverse audience that was 56 per cent male and 44 per cent female, said Spencer Klein, senior vice-president and general sales manager for 20th Century Fox, a unit of 21st Century Fox. "The movie broadened out to a general audience," he said.

From Friday through Sunday, X-Men racked up global ticket sales that beat the December 2009 debut of Fox's Avatar, the sci-fi adventure that started with US$241.5 million worldwide and became the best-selling movie of all time, grossing US$2.8 billion, according to Box Office Mojo. X-Men collected global sales of US$261.8 million over its first three days in 119 territories, including US$37.7 million in China, the world's second-largest film market. Avatar did not open in China during its first weekend of release.

In the latest instalment in the Marvel Comics series, Hugh Jackman's sharp-clawed Wolverine travels back in time to try and save the mutants from future destruction. To alter history, he is drawn into battle with the blue, shape-shifting Mystique, portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence in the US$200 million production.

The film had to contend with a dose of unwelcome publicity after two men accused director Bryan Singer of sexually abusing them as teenagers, charges he denies.

The stampede of X-Men knocked monster hit Godzilla to second place at US and Canadian theatres. The remake of the 1954 Japanese film took in US$39.4 million domestically from Friday through Monday, and brought its global total to US$324.5 million, according to Warner Bros., which produced Godzilla with Legendary Pictures.

New romantic comedy Blended came in third, falling short of forecasts with US$18.2 million in domestic ticket sales through Monday. The movie stars Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler as single parents on vacation with their kids at an African resort.

Seth Rogen comedy Neighbors landed in fourth place with US$17.2 million, ahead of superhero sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in the No. 5 slot with US$10.0 million.

Time Warner's Warner Bros. distributed Godzilla and Blended. Comcast's Universal Pictures released Neighbors. Sony's movie studio distributed Spider-Man 2.