(Warning: The following contains virtually no SPOILERS for the recently released 'X-Men: Apocalypse.' Feel free to continue in the knowledge that the only thing it's likely to spoil are box office totals.)
Now, in a world in which Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice making "only" $871 million worldwide can be considered a major disappointment, and in which Captain America: Civil War breaking a billion in a matter of weeks is seen as entirely predictable, it's probably fair to say that expectations are high when it comes to X-Men: Apocalypse's domestic debut this weekend. The big question, though?
Just How Much Does X-Men: Apocalypse's Opening Weekend Matter?
Here's the thing, though: There are three very different approaches to that question, and each one of them gives a very different answer. As such, let's take a look at all three.
The Egalitarian Approach
By this logic, the bottom line is pretty simple: If you don't make as much money as the movies released around you, then you're not doing all that well. That's the logic behind Batman v Superman's perceived failure — that it didn't make as much money as The Avengers, and thus underachieved. Similarly, the fact that X-Men: Apocalypse seems unlikely to match Deadpool's barnstorming box office success — at least domestically — can be seen as a hint that the movie will, in that sense at least, be a box office disappointment.
In this scenario, anything less than Deadpool's $132 million opening weekend will be a relative failure, and anything less than $100 million or so a catastrophic one.
Alternatively, though, there's also...
The Contextual Approach
By this logic, it really doesn't matter how much money Deadpool, Batman v Superman, Captain America: Civil War or anything else made — with the exception of the previous X-Men movies. If X-Men: Apocalypse makes close to the same amount of money as Days of Future Past did — $233 million domestically, toward a global total of $747 million (just slightly shy of Deadpool's grand total) — then it will surely be seen by Fox as a success, albeit not a runaway one.
In that scenario, beating X-Men: Days of Future Past's $90 million opening weekend would be a notable success, while coming anywhere close to Deadpool's $132 million would be a glorious vindication worthy of a small parade.
The third option, though, is...
The Content-Based Approach
By this logic, what matters is less the overall opening weekend, and more what follows after it. After all, the first few days of release are likely to be strong, with the X-Men franchise having historically been largely immune to negative reviews. Instead, what may prove to matter more is the drop off in ticket sales going into the second weekend. Batman v Superman, after all, made a huge amount of money on its opening weekend, but is still widely seen as a disappointment, since its second weekend saw a disproportionately high drop-off in sales, suggesting that fans weren't interested enough to recommend it to their friends (and to return for a second, or third, or twelfth viewing).
In this scenario, it doesn't really matter whether X-Men: Apocalypse makes $90 million or $130 million on its opening weekend. Instead, what really matters is whether it drops off by closer to Batman v Superman's 69 percent, or a more usual 50-60 percent (the window in which both Deadpool and Civil War landed).
Does Any Of That Really Matter, Though?
After all, with strong international box office takings from last weekend, it's entirely possible that the opening weekend of X-Men: Apocalypse will have strikingly little impact on Fox beyond the company's eventual profit margin — with plans for future X-Projects remaining largely unchanged, irrespective of its debut.
With several major X-Men-themed projects — Wolverine 3, Gambit, Deadpool 2 and The New Mutants — all seemingly en route, it's unlikely that anything short of an unexpectedly catastrophic debut (below, say, $70 million) would prompt much in the way of rethinking on Fox's part. Similarly, it seems likely that director Bryan Singer either has a detailed plan for the next movie, or doesn't — and that the narrative is unlikely to change dramatically based on the box office (with focus group feedback and executive opinion likely to play a far bigger role).
Ultimately, though? We'll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.
What to do you think, though?
How much do you think 'X-Men: Apocalypse's' domestic box office debut will impact the future of the franchise?