"X-Men: Apocalypse" is ruling the Memorial Day holiday weekend with a brawny $92 million over the four days — more than double "Alice Through the Looking Glass," early estimates showed Friday.
Fox's ninth "X-Men" movie was performing at the top end of expectations of $80 million-plus with an opening day of $30 million, which included $8.2 million in Thursday night previews.
Disney's "Alice" sequel was coming in well below recent forecasts — which had been as high as $60 million — with a $10 million opening day Friday. That projects to a four-day total of around $40 million.
"X-Men: Apocalypse," the fourth "X-Men" movie directed by Bryan Singer, was poised to continue the impressive legacy on the Memorial Day holiday. Singer's "X-Men: Days of Future Past" opened to $110.6 million two years ago; in 2006, Brett Ratner's "X-Men: The Last Stand" opened with $122.9 million on its way to a $234.4 million total — both bests for the durable franchise
Prospects for the domestic launch of "X-Men: Apocalypse" have been bolstered by an impressive international opening week, with $130 million as of Wednesday. Oscar Isaac is the titular villain with Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender returning.
PHOTOS: Stills from X-Men: Apocalypse
The opening of "Alice Through the Looking Glass" is coinciding with public attention focused on star Johnny Depp due to ex-wife Amber Heard being granted a temporary restraining order against him following a domestic violence accusation.
"Alice" should be a respectable performer at 3,763 sites for Disney, even without a first-place finish. The studio has dominated 2016 moviegoing with "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," "Captain America: Civil War," "The Jungle Book" and "Zootopia" so far.
But the prospects for "Alice Through the Looking Glass" are paling by comparison to the original "Alice in Wonderland," opened in March of 2010 to $116.1 million and went on to gross $334 million domestically and more than $1 billion worldwide. The sequel, which carries a $170 million price tag, is directed by "Flight of the Conchords" creator James Bobin and stars Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska and Helena Bonham Carter.
Still, the international grosses for "Alice Through the Looking Glass" will likely be far higher than the domestic take. The original grossed nearly $700 million in territories outside the U.S.
The Memorial Day holiday was problematic for Disney last year, when its pricey George Clooney sci-fier "Tomorrowland" underperformed with $42 million.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with ComScore, said the performance by "X-Men: Apocalypse" shows the inherent strength of the franchise.
"'X-Men' is a bulletproof brand that has proven itself time and again to be a huge draw, particularly on Memorial weekend where it has enjoyed an illustrious box office 'Days of Future Past,'" he noted. "While this latest installment may not boast the best reviews of the franchise, it's still an irresistible superhero concoction that saw its beginnings in the year 2000 and launched the current era of superhero movies."
He also said that it's unrealistic to expect "Alice Through the Looking Glass" to match the original: "'Alice' will have inherent interest from audiences both as a new high profile title, but also serve as a great alternative for families over the long weekend. That said, it's tough to live up to the first film that rode a wave of post-"Avatar' 3D enthusiasm to a $1 billion plus global total."
Sony's second weekend of "The Angry Birds Movie" should edge Disney-Marvel's fourth frame of "Captain America: Civil War" for third with about $25 million at 3,932 locations, giving the animated comedy a cumulative box office around $72 million by the end of the holiday weekend.
"Captain America: Civil War" will follow with about $22 million at 3,365 sites, pushing its domestic total to about $378 million by the of Monday.
"Alice Through the Looking Glass" opens day-and-date across 72% of the international marketplace, including Italy, Germany, Spain, UK, Russia, Australia, China, Brazil and Mexico.