Weekend Movies Guide: X-Men Battle Pirates and a Hangover

After last weekend’s record box office numbers, this weekend is bound to be a bit underwhelming. Of all the films being released today, only one looks to have potential for big box office numbers — X-Men: First Class. The film is a prequel to the recent X-Men series, and will be the fifth X-Men film in the last decade after the original trilogy and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The trilogy made over $570 million domestically, and Wolverine brought in $179.9 million. The only film not to be in the top 10 for box office numbers in the year of its release was Wolverine, which came out in 2009 to huge competition from big earners like The Hangover, Avatar, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Blind Side, and Star Trek.

The last two X-Men films had middling reviews, but the new film rates an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, and that’s no mean feat. The Hangover Part II, already one of this year’s top earners as it goes into its second weekend, only received a 34% rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website. While Hangover II benefited from the holiday weekend, it owes a lot of its box office to fans of the previous film returning. The same can probably be said for the latest X-Men installation. The fact that it’s actually good is only a bonus.

X-Men: First Class features an entirely new cast as it takes place forty years before the events of the first film, following younger versions of many of the most popular characters, including James McAvoy taking on the role of a young and notably wheelchair-free Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender playing a younger, slightly less evil Magneto, and Winter’s Bone star and Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence playing Mystique. Rounding out the all-star cast are Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, and Mad Men‘s January Jones.

Aside from X-Men, big earners from the last few weekends should continue to draw in crowds. The Hangover Part II heads into its second week, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides continues in theaters, and the runaway hit Bridesmaids is still showing in most theaters nationwide. This weekend will also see smaller but very well-received films Tree of Life and Midnight in Paris continuing in theaters. The former is a Terrence Malick film centering around a family of three boys in the 1950s, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, while the latter is the latest Woody Allen romp starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Marion Cotillard.

Also opening this week are some well-received limited release films — Submarine, Beginners, and Beautiful Boy. The first is a dramedy about a boy trying to lose his virginity before his sixteenth birthday, the second stars Ewan McGregor as a man who learns that his elderly father, played by Christopher Plummer, is gay and dying of cancer, and the third follows two parents played by Maria Bello and Michael Sheen after they learn that their son has committed a mass shooting at his school and then taken his own life. All fared well on Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic.

So while we shouldn’t expect to see box office numbers like those of Memorial weekend, it’s still a good weekend to go to the movies.

Beginners will be distributed in the US by Focus Films (NYSE:GE), Submarine by The Weinstein Company, Beautiful Boy by Anchor Bay Entertainment (NASDAQ:LCAPA), and X-Men: First Class by 20th Century Fox (NASDAQ:NWS). The Hangover Part II is being distributed by Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides by Walt Disney Studios (NYSE:DIS), Bridesmaids by Universal Pictures (NYSE:GE), Tree of Life by Fox Searchlight (NASDAQ:NWS), and Midnight in Paris is being distributed by Sony Pictures Classics (NYSE:SNE).