The newest addition to the comic book-based superhero summer blockbuster, X-Men: Days of Future Past, was released in theaters May 23, 2014. Will Fox be able to out-gross Marvels’ The Avengers, the highest earning superhero movie to date? Will they be able to recoup the $200 million spent to produce it?
There is legitimate reason for concern, as X-Men: The Last Stand was considered a dud and the Wolverine spin-offs were underwhelming, as well. Fox hopes that the excitement created from X-Men: First Class will carry over into Past, which has also been referred to as First Class 2.
Past was shot, on a Montreal set over the course of a tightly scheduled 89 days, by director Bryan Singer, who had returned to filming the franchise after launching the series back in 2000 with X-Men and its sequel X2 (2003).
At a whopping $200 million-plus budget this edition is the priciest of them all, making it the studio’s second most expensive production ever and possibly the most expensive superhero flick of all time, as well as the most complicated to film.
The reasoning for the steep budget is due largely to the very complex storyline (time travel) of Past, not to mention the star-studded cast, which includes all actors/characters from the previous X-Men trilogy (Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, etc.) combined with those from 2011’s prequel X-Men: First Class (James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, etc.). Interestingly enough, many of these A-listers did not earn their full pay, as they were often off location filming other projects.
The $200M budget also had to cover the costs of visual effects due to the fact that none of the X-Men use real weapons, but rather mutant powers, which required a lot of added effects that must come across as realistic on the big screen.
Past is Fox’s formula to propel the Marvel comics X-Men franchise into the stratosphere, monetarily speaking. Marvel has raked in $2.3 billion worldwide for Fox studios for its six X-Men movies, which includes two spin-offs featuring the ever-popular Wolverine, the second highest earning movie of the X-Men series/spin-offs.
While $2.3 billion may seem an exorbitant amount of revenue, Fox isn’t completely satisfied; they want more money. Compared to what Marvel’s The Avengers grossed on its own accord ($1.5 billion), it’s understandable that 20th Century Fox would desire to see the X-Men franchise earn more. Over the May 23-25 weekend, Past brought in $111 million in opening revenue, and $300 million worldwide, earning more overseas than stateside.
Fox plans to surpass The Avengers earnings with Past’s mix of marquee stars like the older Jackman and Berry (as Storm) along with younger A-list stars like Fassbender and the Oscar-winning Lawrence, in hopes of piquing the interest of a broader fan base, drawing them into theaters, and opening their eyes and imaginations to the world of X-Men.
The latest installment of the Fox superhero epic brings back all of the favorite mega-stars and their characters: Jackman as Wolverine; Lawrence as the shape-shifting Mystique; McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X; and Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto, along with many other fan favorites and new mutants aplenty.
This go-round the action is set in the 1970s where Wolverine (Jackman) is sent back in time to prevent war. The time-travel story covers two time periods, spans six countries, and includes hundreds of giant killer robots, all of which cost big bucks to create and produce on film.
Though the Marvel comic series has a strong fan-following, it is hoped that the non-comic fans will become avid consumers of the Marvel superhero franchise, sparking enough interest for even more spin-offs based on other mutant characters. A Past sequel, Apocalypse, is slated for 2016.
“Days of Future Past” was originally written in 1980 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. The storyline depicts the time-traveling brain of Kitty Pryde and a bleak future where X-Men are hunted by machines known as Sentinels. Upon capture, the mutants are killed or sent to internment camps in Central Park.
Kitty Pryde, played by Juno’s Ellen Page, was originally written to travel back in time in the comic book version, but in the movie it is Jackman’s Wolverine who is sent to 1973 to stop Lawrence’s Mystique from assassinating Sentinels’ inventor Bolivar Trask, played by Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage, and abort the Sentinels program on the order of McKellan’s Professor X.
Trask must be kept alive in order to prevent a devastating war between the mutants and humans. The reason for the discrepancies between the original story and its onscreen adaptation is that Page (27) would be negative 20-years-old if she were to be sent fifty years back in time, so Wolverine is tasked with the challenge instead when Kitty Pryde transports his consciousness back through time.
Past, set primarily in the past, focuses heavily on the background story of a young Charles Xavier/Professor X (McAvoy). Wolverine must help Charles figure out who he is, while also attempting to reunite frenemies Erik/Magneto (Fassbender) and Charles, who is now a drugged-up recluse living with Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult). Xavier and the young Magneto must learn whether or not they can trust each other, but there’s another problem.
Erik has been wrongly accused (or has he?) and imprisoned in a high-security prison 100 floors below the Pentagon for the JFK assassination. Wolverine enlists the help of new mutant Quicksilver to free Erik.
Mystique flirts with the dark side, but remains a do-gooding mutant as she instead helps to keep Trask alive when Wolverine interrupts her assassination attempt, but will she remain on the “good” side?
New mutants include: energy-absorbing Bishop (Omar Sy); teleporting Blink (Fan Bingbing); super fast jail-breaker Quicksilver (Evan Peters); heat-blasting Sunspot (Adan Canto); and Native-American mutant Warpath (Booboo Stewart). This fresh-faced group’s mutants are either fighting in the future, or they are present in the past depending on their story lines.
As of its most recent publication, Entertainment Weekly (EW) has given X-Men: Days of Future Past a B+ rating. It remains to be seen whether this episode will out-earn The Avengers, since it is only in its first week of release at this time, but it’s on a good pace, as it is projected to break $500 million worldwide within the upcoming weeks.