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Wolverine Claws Out Box-Office's Eyes, Craps In Orbital Socket

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | May 3, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | May 3, 2009 |

Here’s a statement you’re likely to hear a lot over the next few months: “Despite poor reviews, X-Men Origins: Wolverine nevertheless managed to obliterate the box-office this weekend.” While huge, mega, heavily-promoted multiplex squatters tend to be critic proof, I still think that atrocious reviews are doing a wonderful service. We know you’re going to see the movie anyway — Hollywood commands it — but we help set expectations so low that you don’t hate the blockbusters nearly as much as you thought you would. Hooray! That was my experience with Wolverine after TK’s review. I knew it was going to blow. But thanks to the massive lowering of expectations, I wasn’t terribly disappointed to find that it really was awful. Thanks TK!

That said, even with the little screen time he had, Ryan Reynolds was a pretty good Deadpool, and assuming they don’t give it the same Fox Studios treatment, I totally would like to see a Deadpool spin-off. And a Gambit one, as Taylor Kitsch did a fairly decent job, too, with his limited screen time. And thanks to the massive $87 million domestic take of Wolverine, we’ll probably see an X-Men film every summer for the next decade, starting in 2010 with X-Men: The First Class. In fact, I like to think of Wolverine not as the massive disappointment that it was, but a serviceable segue in to The First Class, though none of those youngsters did much for me. I just can’t wait for the Dazzler and Jubilee spin-off — the big finale sequence will take place in a mall! The Mimic spin-off should be good, too. He’ll just repeat everything everyone else says until everyone leaves the theater. It’ll open with $92 million.

Note: Dazzler and Jubilee are actual X-Men. Can you come up with a more ridiculous name than those for superpower mutants? In fact, I understand that Dazzler actually be-dazzles supervillians to death.

Wolverine didn’t have as big an opening as the $102 million that X-Men: The Last Stand put up three years ago, but it did outperform the opening weekend of the first two films (X-Men, $54 million; X-Men 2, $85 million). So why, despite poor reviews, awful buzz, and a leaked version of the movie did Wolverine put up as big a number as it did? Because it was the first blockbuster of the season, and there’s something about the first weekend of May that compels us to the theaters. It’s instincts. It’s been bred into us. Some sort of genetic coding they put into baby formula and McDonald’s Happy Meals. It’s not really a choice. So, don’t feel bad if you ponied up $10 knowing you were going to be disappointed. It’s like losing your virginity — you know it’s going to be awkward and bad and uncomfortable. But you do it anyway. And maybe the next time, it’ll be better. And you can bet your ass that, next week, Wolverine is gonna have a massive drop-off when Star Trek opens.

Meanwhile, the counterprogrammed romantic comedy Ghosts of Girlfriends Past failed to do much, bringing in a paltry $15 million. Why? Because Wolverine had its own counterprogramming built in. Why go see Matthew McConaughey glisten when Hugh Jackman is already parading around without his shirt on? A brilliant ploy, really. Kudos, Fox Studios. You may have swindled the American public out of $87 million, but at least you saved most of them from Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.

And, believe it or not, there was another wide opener this weekend: Battle for Terra came in at number 12, with a hugely disappointing $1 million take. We’ll have a review up tomorrow. There were no notable indie releases, either. So, here’s your top five:

5. Monsters vs. Aliens ($5.8 million; $182 million)

4. 17 Again ($6.3 million; $48 million)

3. Obsessed ($12 million; $47 million)

2. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past ($15 million)

1. X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($87 million)

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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