Next weekend, Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ: FOXA ) takes a try at box office glory with X-Men Days of Future Past. Can it outperform Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which so far ranks as 2014's top comic book movie?
Host Ellen Bowman puts this question to Fool analysts Nathan Alderman and Tim Beyers in this episode of 1-Up On Wall Street, The Motley Fool's web show in which we talk about the big-money names behind your favorite movies, toys, video games, comics, and more.
Nathan says Fox spent too much on X-Men: Days of Future Past. A minimum $250 million production budget means the film will have to put up unprecedented numbers for an X-Men movie. That's unlikely given Fox's strategy. Specifically, the studio is bringing all the X-Men together in one film in hopes that fans will show up to see a favorite character.
Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS ) didn't take that chance, Nathan says, preferring instead to win over fans one character at a time. That way, Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor fans would be willing to see a team-up movie featuring characters they otherwise might not care about. The result? Marvel Studios has enjoyed accelerating grosses in the solo movies that followed the Avengers, including Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Tim argues that X-Men: Days of Future Past benefits from a 14-year cinematic history dating back to the release of X-Men in 2000. That movie produced more than $296 million in worldwide grosses on a $75 million production budget, a financial win for Fox even without counting DVD sales.
Several of the characters in the follow-up movie, X-2: X-Men United, appear in X-Men: Days of Future Past, providing the sort of connective tissue that made Marvel's The Avengers the box office success it was. Mix in outstanding reviews and a month's worth of weaker box office competition and you've all the ingredients required to top Captain America: The Winter Soldier at the box office.
X-Men: Days of Future Past also kicks off a whole new series of films that will add variety and heft to a franchise that's due for at least two more team-up movies and potential solo spinoffs. Fox investors stand to benefit greatly if this phase starts out well, Tim argues.
Who's right? Click the video to watch as Ellen puts Nathan and Tim on the spot, and then leave a comment below tell us which movie you think will top the charts and why. You can also follow us on Twitter for more segments and regular geek news updates!
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