Young X-Men don't have the same box-office superpowers as their older selves, it would seem.
X-Men: First Class had a solid number one opening in the US with a 56 million dollar weekend, according to studio estimates.
But the 20th Century Fox prequel chronicling the formative years of the comic-book mutants found smaller audiences than the franchise's first four big-screen adventures, which featured older versions of the X-Men.
Debut weekends for the last three X-Men flicks ranged from 85.1 million dollars to 102.8 million. The original X-Men opened 11 years ago with 54.5 million, but that would amount to about 80 million today adjusting for ticket-price inflation.
Fox distribution executive Chris Aronson said the studio achieved its goal of opening the prequel at about the same revenue numbers as the original X-Men.
"This is just an excellent start in launching a brand new chapter of the X-Men franchise," said Aronson, dismissing comparisons to the 85.1 million debut of Hugh Jackman's X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009.
"You can't compare this one to any of the other X-Men movies, except maybe the first one," Aronson said. "Something like Wolverine is a totally unfair comparison because that had a bona fide worldwide star in Hugh Jackman and arguably the most popular character in the X-Men stable."
The prequel presents a rising cast of new talent rather than the established stars of the franchise's previous chapters.
X-Men: First Class features James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Marvel Comics mutants Professor X and Magneto, roles originated by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in the characters' older years.
The prequel follows their first meeting, early alliance and eventual falling out as they take opposite approaches in their dealings with ordinary humans fearful of the superpowered mutants.