The X-Men are set for a colossal return. Days of Future Past looks to reintroduce characters not seen since 2006's The Last Stand and remind audiences that Professor X's mutant team used to be the biggest thing in the superhero game. The Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) film is almost certain to become the highest grossing entry in the series by a substantial margin. But a somewhat unexpected challenger has arisen to complicate Days of Future Past's path to box office greatness.
Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) Godzilla is currently tearing up the box office and looking to stake its claim on Memorial Day weekend. Will the incredible success of the reptilian reboot put a damper on the return of Wolverine and company? How will X-Men: Days of Future Past fare against other big summer movies?
Godzilla won't stomp the X-Men
The breakout success of Godzilla shouldn't bother Fox's superhero action flick on the domestic front. An influx of filmgoers should make sure that there are enough box office dollars to go around this Memorial Day weekend. Tracking for X-Men: Days of Future Past has the film earning $125 million in its four-day holiday frame, which should be enough to make it the biggest stateside opener of the year. What's more, reviews should work in the film's favor. As with Godzilla, critical perception seems to be improving as the movie gets closer to release, a great sign that the movie will be able to beat expectations.
Future Past returns to (and surpasses) previous greatness
To date, the highest earning film in the "X-Men" series is 2006's The Last Stand with approximately $459 million unadjusted. Second place goes to 2013's The Wolverine with approximately $415 million unadjusted. Expecting X-Men: Days of Future Past to perform roughly in line with these two movies would be a mistake, however.
Look for Future Past's incredible cast, strong audience reception, and the reintroduction of the most popular X-Men to drive the film to outperformance. The movie looks to have a shot at passing the $800 million mark. Given the difficulties that Fox has faced in handling its "Fantastic Four" property, the company desperately needs a huge hit on the superhero front.
How will the X-Men fare against Maleficent?
Days of Future Past should become a major hit, but it's going to have some tough competition. On May 30, Disney (NYSE:DIS) will release Maleficent, a picture that will probably open short of Future Past's numbers but should stay in theaters awhile. Disney's Frozen opened with approximately $67 million at the North American box office, ultimately earning more than $400 million domestically and $1.2 billion worldwide.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 could win the summer
June 13 will see the release of DreamWorks Animation's (NASDAQ:DWA) How to Train Your Dragon 2, by far the summer's most high-profile animated picture. Look for this movie to become one of the year's biggest success stories. Its predecessor earned approximately $495 million at the global box office, with strong word of mouth driving the film to a fantastic performance on home video formats. Early reviews out of Cannes for How to Train Your Dragon 2 have been glowing. Don't be surprised if this one crosses the $1 billion mark.
Will the Transformers get stuck in reverse?
The summer's biggest remaining blockbuster will arrive courtesy of Transformers 4: Age of Extinction from Paramount and DreamWorks Pictures. The movie opens on June 27 and should perform between the $836.3 million brought in by Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and the approximately $1.12 billion revved up by 2011s Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
The fourth "Transformers" film is something of a reboot, featuring a fresh human cast. Additionally, other popular series like Pirates of the Caribbean have experienced a drop-off upon reaching a fourth entry.
X-Men won't claim summer's #1 spot, but will win big
X-Men: Days of Future Past should be a winner, but it's unlikely that the film will boast the summer's highest box office tally. Look for the movie to be outearned by How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Transformers 4: Age of Extinction.
Even so, Future Past could wind up a much bigger victory for Fox than the return of the Autobots for Paramount and DreamWorks Pictures. The resurgent X-Men look guaranteed to deliver meaningful franchise growth and reenergize the property.
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Keith Noonan has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends DreamWorks Animation and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.