It might be time to reevaluate your superhero tactics when the most powerful collection of mutants on the planet get bested by a small group of talking animals. That’s the big takeaway from the domestic box office this weekend, where Dark Phoenix, the final chapter of the current iteration of the X-Men movie franchise, found itself beaten down by the Sentinel known as The Secret Life Of Pets 2. There were ominous portents of this fate, and not just because Phoenix was written (and directed) by the same guy who got the story wrong the first time around, when it was called The Last Stand. From the extensive reshoots to the forecast suggesting it would have the worst opening weekend of any X-Men film, the movie seemed somewhat doomed from the start to being a shrug of a final installment in a once-beloved series.
Coming in with only $33 million (to Pets’ $47 million), Dark Phoenix is the first X-Men movie to open under $50 million, and well below even the studio’s lackluster predictions of $40-50 million. Not only that, but moviegoers assigned it a dismal “B-” Cinemascore rating—even X-Men: Apocalypse (a much worse movie, incidentally) avoided such a lowly designation. Not since Cypher has there been such a disappointing display of mutant abilities. The Secret Life Of Pets 2 underperformed as well, bringing in less than half of what the original did its opening weekend (and with the second widest opening ever, on 4,561 screens), but at least it can claim to be the number one movie in America.
Aladdin seemed to avoid the underperforming curse, dropping only 43% to add $24.5 million to its genie-enhanced coffers, bringing its total to more than $232 million—not bad for a rapping blue dude who can’t hold a candle to his animated progenitor. But Godzilla: King Of The Monsters fell hard, as the super-sized monster movie dropped 67.5% in its second week, bringing in only $15.5 million for a current total of $78.6 million—not even enough to destroy Des Moines, let alone Tokyo. It seems dangling the tantalizingly sex appeal of Bradley Whitford in front of the nation’s youth is not enough to lure them into watching kaiju creatures duke it out. And Rocketman blasted into fifth place with $14 million, guaranteeing a few more weeks of “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” emanating from the darkness of the nation’s multiplexes.
It remains to be seen if the box office will perk up this coming weekend with the release of Men In Black: International, Shaft, and Late Night. (There’s also a shambling mess of zombies descending upon theaters with Jim Jarmusch’s dispiriting The Dead Don’t Die.) For a more detailed breakdown of this weekend’s box office, check out Box Office Mojo.