LOS ANGELES — After nearly 20 years and a dozen films, the current manifestation of X-Men movies is going out with a whimper.
Scorched by poor reviews, the $200 million "Dark Phoenix" earned a franchise low of $33 million from 3,721 North American locations over the weekend for a second place finish, according to studio estimates Sunday. First place went instead to "The Secret Life of Pets 2."
The Universal Pictures and Illumination sequel, featuring the voices of Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and Harrison Ford in his first animated role, grossed an estimated $47.1 million in ticket sales. Although less than half of what the first film opened to in 2016, it's still a major win for the studio, considering the production budget was around $80 million. Including international grosses, its global total is already sitting at $97 million.
"It's a fantastic result," said Jim Orr, Universal's president of domestic theatrical distribution. "We couldn't be more proud to partner with (CEO) Chris Meledandri and everyone at Illumination."
He noted that this is the ninth No. 1 opening for Illumination, the animated arm responsible for the "Despicable Me" movies.
With decidedly less stellar results, "Dark Phoenix" trailed behind the talking animals. Directed by longtime X-Men scribe Simon Kinberg, it focuses on Jean Grey who is played by Sophie Turner fresh off of her "Game of Thrones" run as Sansa Stark. It also brings back James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence. It's the de facto conclusion to the modern X-Men movies that started in 2000, and also the first major 20th Century Fox film to be released by the Walt Disney Co. following the acquisition.
But the quality wasn't there and it scored even worse reviews overall than the widely-disparaged "X-Men: Apocalypse." Audiences who showed up seemed to concur with the critics, giving it a deadly B- CinemaScore.
Disney has another winner in its books in "Aladdin," which coasted to third place in its third weekend with another $24.5 million. Globally it has earned $604.9 million to date.
Warner Bros.' "Godzilla: King of The Monsters" had a titan-sized second weekend fall, however, down 67% with $15.5 million.
And the acclaimed Elton John biopic "Rocketman," from Paramount Pictures, rounded out the top five with $14 million.
Overall the box office is healthy. The weekend is up 37% from last year when "Ocean's 8" opened and the year to date deficit improved again. The year is now down 5.9%.