Now, there's a pretty solid argument that reports of X-Men: Apocalypse's disappointing opening weekend at the US box office are...a little on the harsh side. After all, for almost any non-superhero movie, an $80 million gross over a long weekend would be considered a perfectly respectable tally - especially with a worldwide gross now up to $262 million. Combined with lackluster reviews, though, X-Men: Apocalypse's low opening - noticeably down from 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past's debut - might just have some fairly major consequences for the X-Franchise.
Perhaps the most intriguing potential implication of the film's weak debut at the box office, though?
It's Entirely Possible That The X-Men Movies Are No Longer Fox's Main Superhero Franchise
For years now, the X-Men franchise has shrugged off both competition from the Fantastic Four and Wolverine franchises (OK, so I'm using competition loosely here) and a deeply fan-alienating third installment (hi there, X-Men: The Last Stand) on its way to becoming Fox's premier superhero franchise.
The financial success of both the original X-Trilogy, and its more recent X-Men: First Class-led prequel/reboot trilogy, placed the X-Men franchise at the very top of Fox's priorities, especially in the wake of the comparative box office and critical struggles of Wolverine and The Fantastic Four.
That, however, all changed back in February. Y'see...
Deadpool's Massive Box Office Success Might Just Have Changed Everything
With a $132 million opening weekend in the US, and a final domestic total of $362 million, Deadpool seems to have changed the terms on which the X-Franchise does business (its best previous domestic total was The Last Stand's $234 million). Or, rather, it might just have positioned itself - and its business model - as the new standard for Fox-owned superhero properties.
Now, of course, Deadpool ultimately only narrowly beat worldwide Days of Future Past's total of $747 million, but with the Merc with a Mouth's staggering domestic success giving Deadpool the impression of being a much larger hit than Days of Future Past (and its comparatively small budget making it hugely profitable), the two no longer appear to many to be in the same league.
Could That Really Make Deadpool Fox's New Lead Superhero Franchise, Though?
On the one hand, Deadpool 2 will certainly arrive with a whole lot of financial expectation resting on its snarky shoulders - with a similarly substantial box office take to its predecessor sure to be a key part of Fox's fiscal planning for 2018. With the core X-Men movies likely to be less immediately profitable, it's not implausible to argue that Deadpool is now Fox's number one superhero franchise.
On the other hand, though, there's a whole lot to be said for both longevity and breadth of scope. Where Deadpool could theoretically find itself struggling in a marketplace likely to be filled with knock offs of its particular brand of whimsy, the central X-Men franchise has long since solidified a core audience of devoted fans. Add to that its likely greater capacity for establishing spin-offs - The New Mutants, for instance, alongside much of the likely X-Force roster - and its more family - and China - friendly tone and rating, and there's a pretty solid argument that its still at the very heart of Fox's planning, irrespective of this weekend's mild box office setback.
In other words? It could still go either way - and there's no real cause to write the X-Men franchise off as a metaphorically doomed cruise ship just yet...
Unless Deadpool gets his hands on it, I suppose...