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Sophie Turner and Jessica Chastain in Dark Phoenix

After a long road to the screen that saw it delayed multiple times, Dark Phoenix has finally arrived. The film got a start to its theatrical run with opening night previews on Thursday. Simon Kinberg’s film is expected to be the final chapter of Fox’s X-Men continuity, and thus the last appearance of the current cast before the property is rebooted for the MCU. So are Fox’s X-Men going out in a blaze of glory or has this franchise already burned out?

Dark Phoenix got a start to its run with $5 million from its Thursday night preview showings according to The Wrap. That is a well behind the previous two films in the mainline X-Men franchise, X-Men: Apocalypse and X-Men: Days of Future Past, which opened to $8.2 million and $8.1 million respectively.

Days of Future Past went on to have one of the stronger opening weekends of the franchise, outside of the Deadpool films, with $90.8 million over 3 days and $110.6 million over the Memorial Day weekend in 2014. Dark Phoenix doesn’t figure to soar anywhere near those heights. X-Men: Apocalypse had a $65.8 million 3-day and an $80 million 4-day but Dark Phoenix should come in under that.

Some box office trackers have Dark Phoenix opening as high as $55 million over the weekend, with the studio projecting a more conservative $40-$50 million. These numbers would all be basically in line with the early and long-range tracking that predicted the film would fall anywhere between $40 million and $55 million.

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Earlier this year another superhero movie, Shazam!, made $5.9 million in previews before going on to a $54 million weekend, so that may be a useful comparison for how Dark Phoenix will do. Another film that was the end of a franchise, albeit not in the superhero genre, was War for the Planet of the Apes, which made $5 million in previews as part of a $56 million opening weekend.

The lowest opening for an X-Men movie is The Wolverine’s $53 million, and the lowest for a film in the mainline series was X-Men: First Class’s $55.1 million. So it is looking tight as to whether Dark Phoenix will be edge out those films or take the franchise out with a bit of a whimper with the lowest opening.

The early tracking had Dark Phoenix a clear second this weekend to The Secret Life of Pets 2, but as we enter opening weekend the race looks much tighter. Despite making only $2.3 million opening night, audiences don’t rush to theaters on opening night for animated kids movies the same way they do for superhero movie, so The Secret Life of Pets 2 is very much in the running for first place.

Although the first The Secret Life of Pets opened to a phenomenal $104.3 million, the studio is projecting the sequel to open between $50-$60 million. That would put it in close competition for the top spot with Dark Phoenix.

It will be interesting to see where Dark Phoenix ends up. It has some things going for it like the fact that it is adapting an iconic and beloved comic book storyline (how faithfully is another discussion) although it chose not to use the X-Men branding in the title for some reason. The film is also the last in the series, the swan song, so audiences may want to see it through to the end and find out where these characters, including the popular Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey, end up.

However, the reviews have not done this film any favors and you have to wonder if a rough Rotten Tomatoes score will depress turnout. What kind of word of mouth it and reception from audiences Dark Phoenix gets will be something to watch for.

Dark Phoenix is now playing. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of all the movies coming your way this summer.

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